Alternative definitions (2), class: vernacular (0)
Term: Sunspots

An area seen as a dark patch on the Sun's surface. Sunspots appear dark because they are cooler (of about 4000 °C) than the surrounding photosphere (about 6000 °C). They range in size from a few hundred kilometers to several times the Earth's diameter and last from a few hours to a few months. Very small sunspots are called pores. The number of sunspots varies from maximum to minimum in about 11 years, the sunspot cycle. Their appearance during a cycle follows the Sporer law. A typical spot has a central umbra surrounded by a penumbra, although either features can exist without the other. Sunspots are associated with strong magnetic fields of 0.2 to 0.4 tesla. A given sunspot has a single magnetic polarity. The opposite polarity may be found in other sunspots or in the bright and diffuse facular region adjacent to the sunspot. The first recorded naked-eye sightings of sunspots were by Chinese astronomers in the first century B.C. Johannes Fabricius (1587-1617) was the first to argue that sunspots are areas on the solar surface.

Created 2023.04.16
Last Modified 2023.04.16
Contributed by Ryan McGranaghan