Photographer took a picture that shows how the activity of the Sun changes: Variety of sunspots

(ORDO NEWS) — A stunning new time-lapse image shows two bands of reshaping sunspots moving across the Sun’s surface.

Their total number was the highest in eight years, which suggests that solar activity is about to reach a qualitatively new level.

The new image shows two main groups of sunspots moving across the Sun’s surface in December 2022, when it soared to an eight-year high.

Senol Shanli, an amateur astrophotographer from Bursa, Turkey, created the image using data from NASA‘s Solar Dynamics Observatory.

The photo that Shanli shared on social media is a collection of individual shots taken between December 2 and 27, 2022.

Two bands of developing clusters in the image belong to a pair of particularly large sunspot groups: A3176, located north of the solar equator; and A3153 in the Sun’s southern hemisphere, both of which moved from east to west (from right to left in the image).

Shangli digitally removed other visible sunspots on the Sun’s surface from this period, allowing the observer to track minute changes in sunspot groups over time.

Where are the spots on the sun?

Sunspots are areas of the visible surface of the Sun or planet-sized photosphere with elevated magnetic fields.

The spots are not actually black; they appear darker than the rest of the photosphere because they are much colder than their surroundings.

Scientists track these areas of strong magnetism because they can spit out potentially damaging solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs).

More than 113 sunspots were detected on the Sun’s surface in December 2022, the most since December 2014, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center.

This number is a significant increase from the rest of 2022, which saw an average of 73.3 sunspots per month until December.

The increase in sunspots is the result of the Sun entering a more active phase of its 11-year solar cycle, which peaks in 2025.

In 2022, scientists recorded an increase in the frequency and intensity of solar storms, and 2023 is likely to be even more active if the number of sunspots remains high or continues to increase.

Several major solar storms have already occurred this year. On January 3rd, an alleged X-class solar flare, the most powerful type of flare the Sun can produce, exploded on the far side of the Sun.

Just three days later, the sun erupted a confirmed X-class flare from the same spot.

And on January 4, Earth‘s magnetic field was destroyed by a potentially destructive CME, just as the planet reached its closest point to the Sun, known as perihelion.

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