RARE SOLAR MINIMUM SUNSPOT 2699 Capable of Intense Explosions

With Solar Minimum right around the corner, sunspot counts are at an almost 10-year low. So it came as a surprise yesterday when a relatively large sunspot emerged near the sun's eastern limb. AR2699 has a primary dark core larger than Earth with many smaller magnetic condensations trailing behind it, in all stretching more than 75,000 km across the sun's surface.

Rare "solar minimum sunspots" are capable of intense explosions just like sunspots during more active phases of the solar cycle. At the moment AR2699 is crackling with minor B- and C-class solar flares, notable only because of the sun's recent tomb-like silence. This time-lapse movie from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows unrest deep inside the sunspot's core. Could this spark a stronger solar flare as AR2699 turns toward Earth? No one can say.

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