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  solar surface & below
Beneath the surface On the surface
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  Sunspots
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  what do sunspots look like?
  how are sunspots formed?
  how big are sunspots?
  who first spotted sunspots?
  how fast does the Sun spin?
  cycling sunspots
  solar activity cycle
  where do sunspots appear?
  can sunspots harm us?

what do sunspots look like?

 

Firstly, take a look at what sunspots look like close-up and in visible light. You can also see the patterns on the Sun's surface, the photosphere. More details about the solar photosphere are given in the section 'On and around the solar surface'.

 
Sunspots  

Sunspots have two main regions. A very dark part in the middle which is called the umbra mouse over arrow and a less dark outer part called the penumbra. mouse over arrow The temperature of the sunspot umbra is about 4,000 °C and so it appears dark because it is much cooler than the surrounding photosphere, which has a temperature of about 6,000 °C.

     

Did you hear about the scientist who put dynamite in his fridge? - He blew his cool!

Sunspots appear dark because the centre is cooler than the surrounding area.

 

Did you know that if you saw sunspots on their own, they would be as bright as the bright part of the Moon - they only appear dark compared to the very bright surface of the Sun.

 

But why are sunspots cool - Because the magnetic field in that area stops some of the energy from inside the Sun   Why do cool things appear darker than hot things? - Cool things contain less energy than hot things, so there is less energy to product light and other radiation Did you know? - That Umbra is the Latin word for "shadow" So now you know where the word umbrella comes from - something to shade you from the rain or Sun  
 
Sunspots

Here’s an even closer look at a sunspot taken at the observatory of La Palma.

 

You can see more movies in our Gallery
  [Movie file 1mb or more - High quality]
   

 

   
 
 

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