Sun welcomed New Year with a giant solar flare
As we celebrated New Year, the sun was not far behind.
The sun emitted its first major flare of the year from one of the giant sunspot groups now resting at its centre in a decade, said a press release from NASA.
The giant sunspot, named AR1944, was captured by European Space Agency and NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory.
Sunspots are dark areas that grow and decay on the lowest level of the sun that is visible from the earth - the photosphere.
They are part of what's known as active regions that can be the source of some of the sun's great explosions, said the press release.
Solar flares send out giant bursts of light and radiation due to the release of magnetic energy, or coronal mass ejections that send huge clouds of solar material out into space.
The largest dark spot on the sun is approximately the size of two earths together, and the entire sunspot group is like the size of seven earths together.
"Scientists would now watch how it changes and evolves. The changes in sunspot group can cause space weather events that can affect space-borne systems and technological infrastructure on earth," the release added.
(Posted on 08-01-2014)