Is the Sun Heating Up?   

"The Sun right now is probably averaging over several decades the most active it's been in 400 years."

- Sallie Baliunas, Ph.D., Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

The large white spot on the face of the sun is called "Sunspot 822." Its current length on November 17, 2005, is 87,000 miles (140,000 km), about the size of Jupiter. According to SpaceWeather.com, "This sunspot poses a threat for M-class solar flares. NOAA forecasters estimate a 50% chance of one during the next 24 hours. Eruptions in the days ahead could cause magnetic storms on Earth." November 17, 2005, solar image by Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO).
The large white spot on the face of the sun is called "Sunspot 822." Its current length on November 17, 2005, is 87,000 miles (140,000 km), about the size of Jupiter. According to SpaceWeather.com, "This sunspot poses a threat for M-class solar flares. NOAA forecasters estimate a 50% chance of one during the next 24 hours. Eruptions in the days ahead could cause magnetic storms on Earth." November 17, 2005, solar image by Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO).

November 18, 2005  Cambridge, Massachusetts - Astrophysicists are scratching their heads about what's happening on the sun and in our solar system. Why has this so-called "Solar Minimum" been so active? It should be quiet now with very few sunspots because this is supposed to be the low point of the Sun's 11-year-sunspot cycle. But this week, there was a sunspot called 822 that's 87,000 miles across - the size of the planet Jupiter! Could it erupt with more powerful X-flares as has happened the past few months. Big flares threaten all the broadcast, global positioning and military satellites that now orbit our planet. As I've reported before in Earthfiles, the sun is not "normal." Is it warming up? Earth's North Pole and Mars's South Pole are melting at a surprisingly rapid rate. Even far out Pluto seems to show some melting. Is the sun a bigger player in all this than originally thought? 

 

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