Pick of The Week
 
 

Cell division? (March 25, 2004)


Hi-res TIF image (2.7M)

Movies:
MPEG: Large (707K), Small (130K)
Quicktime: Large (7.9M), Small (266K)

In what almost looks like a classic process of biological cell division, a single sunspot split itself in two over a 36-hour period, March 11-12, 2004. The single originating spot was several times the size of Earth. The longer movie clip shows the gradual growth and division of the area over nine days. It is completely normal to see sunspots change shape and size over a period of days or even hours, but the emergence of two distinct spots out of one spot is quite an uncommon observation.

Sunspots are the visible tracers of magnetically active regions with typical north and south polarity. Because they are somewhat cooler (4,000 C) than the rest of the Sun's surface (6,000 C), they appear darker.

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