Saturday, November 24th 2012, 5:35 AM EST
A sunspot, like AR1618, is a vast island of magnetism floating on the surface of the sun. Magnetic fields bubble up from the sun's interior to form the sunspot's dark cores much like a Pacific island forming from the lava of an undersea volcano. Phil Scherrer, a member of the Solar Dynamics Observatory science team at Stanford Unniversity, has prepared an 8-day movie showing the genesis of AR1618
A companion movie shows the region's magnetic development. In the movie, which Scherrer made using data from SDO's Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI), white denotes positive polarity, black denotes negative. Places with mixed polarities are where the magnetic fields can reconnect and erupt, producing solar flares.
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