Monday 23 April 2018

Our Sun awakes from slumber! Sunspot AR2706 twice as wide as Earth and a new northern coronal hole turn to face Earth

Credit NOAA  above a graph showing the 11-year cycle of sunspot activity on our sun as we enter the Solar minimum period.
Solar minimum is approaching and as a result, 2018 has been 60% sunspot free with 67 days without a sunspot on the sun.
2017 had a total of 104 days (28%), 2016 a total of 32 days (9%) and 2015 a total of 0 days (0%).
 According to solar minimum is approaching and, as a result, sunspot numbers are crashing toward zero. 
Nevertheless, there is a relatively large spot on the sun today. AR2706 has a primary core almost twice as wide as Earth, making it an easy target for backyard solar telescopes. 
So far AR2706 has produced no flares--a lassitude typical of solar minimum sunspots.
We have to go back to September 2017 to the last time our sun released a significant solar flare when an X9.3-class solar flare which was the strongest solar flare since 2005 and equal 14th biggest flare ever recorded, two more X-class flares were ejected later in the week.
It was also the first time since 2014 when three X-class flares were recorded in a week.

Sunspot AR2706 has a stable magnetic field that poses no threat for strong solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI
Below a northern coronal hole has opened up on the sun and is facing the earth.
Solar wind flowing from this northern coronal hole might graze Earth's magnetic field on April 25th or 26th. Credit: SDO/AIA