Intern Captures Image of Massive Sunspot
These sunspot images were taken by PARI Intern Sam Frederick as he spent the summer automating PARI’s solar telescope and preparing an observation plan for the solar eclipse. Sam was the Jim Falls summer intern and is currently a junior at Davidson College. He said capturing the images was no small task: “I was using an Imaging Source 41AU camera through a 5” Schmidt-Cassegrain with a white light filter. To make these images, a series of 500 photos were captured for each image and then run through Registax software to align, calibrate and determine the highest resolution images to combine into the composite image.”
The image shown here in color was captured first, the second image was taken several days later. “The second image is significant,” said Sam, “in that it shows sunspots have a definite movement across the Sun as we see them. The penumbra and surrounding magnetically active regions due to the sunspot are also clearly visible, which suggests the extent to which the spot impacts the dynamic system of the magnetosphere.”
Sunspots mark regions where extremely powerful magnetic fields emerge through the photosphere. The sunspot Sam photographed is AR2665, which is about 75,000 miles wide, or more than nine times the size of Earth. During the period Sam was observing it, AR2665 released a solar flare with temperatures exceeding 2 million Kelvin, more than 6000 times hotter than the warmest days on Earth.