Enormous Ring is Developing on the Sun



Before It's News – First Place Story

What is this strange ring that has been developing on the Sun during 16-Oct?

Sunspot 1112, located in the southeast quadrant, has been the source of a giant filament that is currently stretching 400,000 km across the surface of the Sun.

However, today, there appears to be development of a enormous circular ring which looks to be linking with the huge magnetic filament of sunspot 1112. Most of today’s various wavelength images of the Sun all show this feature over at the SDO (Solar Dynamics Observatory) – NASA website.

SpaceWeather.com today reports,

A vast filament of magnetism is cutting across the Sun’s southern hemisphere today. A bright ‘hot spot’ just north of the filament’s midpoint is UV radiation from sunspot 1112. The proximity is no coincidence; the filament appears to be rooted in the sunspot below. If sunspot flares, it could cause the entire structure to erupt. This active region merits watching…

What concerns me is that if indeed this is a huge magnetic filament nearly encircling the entire Sun, it is now currently directly facing the Earth. If sunspot 1112 does erupt, could the entire filament explode into a massive CME?

This particular phenomenon will be all over in a few days as it rotates around the Sun, but it serves to remind us that there are more and more events happening on the Sun as we transit into the next solar cycle maximum (peaking ~ 2012 into 2013).

CME is short for coronal mass ejection, a plasma made up of mostly electrons and protons.

Basically, a CME is electromagnetic radiation that is ejected from active regions of the sun.

CMEs directed at Earth can interfere with  radio communications, harm satellites, and even damage electrical power transmission circuits and infrastructure, potentially causing widespread power grid failure. The biggest threat to human civilization is the later, a massive power grid failure, which could take months or even years to repair. This circumstance would require an extremely powerful CME, which fortunately do not occur on a regular basis.

Update 16-Oct-2010:

Issued: 2010 Oct 16 2156 UTC
Product: documentation at http://www.sidc.be/products/presto
An M2.9 X-ray flare occurred at 19:12UT at S20W26 in the vicinity of
active region 1112. There is no evidence for an associated CME. The
flare was confined in time. The filament in the neighborhood of the
flare site didn’t erupt as can be seen in PROBA2/SWAP images.

Sunspot 1112 just produced a solar flare (16-Oct, 2156 UTC) and we have apparently dodged a bullet for the moment… it did not ignite the massive filament. However, Sunspot 1112 is still Earth-facing and could easily flare again… Eyes are still on it…

Update 17-Oct-2010:

While reports are indicating that yesterdays M3-class eruption was the largest in three months, sunspot 1112 is still growing and the huge associated filament remains intact and ready to ignite should a larger flare explode in the upcoming hours.

Composite Image from 17-Oct-2010, 1435 UTC


Update 18-Oct-2010:

Sunspot 1112 and its monstrous 400,000 km filament located in the southeast quadrant, continues its (left to right) rotation around the sun, while still Earth facing and intact.

Composite Image from 18-Oct-2010, 1333 UTC

A total of five “B” and “C” -class flares ignited today from sunspot region 1112, a high number but fairly small in intensity, not enough to ignite the filament.

Check out the close-up image of the region as it makes its way towards the south east edge. Image from AIA (Atmospheric Imager Assembly) wavelength: 171 angstroms.

Maybe too much information, but it has been fun to watch this one…


Solar cycles come and go about every 11 years or so, and is due to reach the next solar maximum sometime between 2012 and 2013. It is a process, a ramp up. I’m sure that there will be many more posts in the future, assuming that the activity continues to increase over the next year or two. The fact that we are seeing activity is not unusual. However it has been interesting to observe the magnificent filament that developed over the surface during the past several days, along with its ominous shape.

Update 19-Oct-2010:

The filament that we’ve been watching has grown to 500,000 km, and incredibly, a small part of it erupted into space while leaving the majority still intact. The eruption is NOT Earth directed, while the entire region has rotated near the limb of the sun.


Update 19-Oct-2010, later in the day…

Sunspot region 1112 belted off 4 small solar flares today and is still very active while beginning to twist over the southeast limb.


Update 20-Oct-2010

5 additional flares so far today, the largest being a C1.5. Today may be the last we see of region 1112, unless it survives the 12 day journey around the far side of the sun.

Update 21-Oct-2010

Parting image of sunspot 1112… on the edge


Update 3-Nov-2010

Right on time, sunspot 1112 survived the journey around the back side of the sun and is now appearing into view on the southwest limb. This mighty sunspot has teeth. Time will tell if it has diminished in intensity or if it harbors more surprises. Maybe another filament ring??


Update 6-Nov-2010

Yesterday, the powers that be, renamed sunspot 1112 to 1121. It remains just as active (if not more so) than it was when we first observed it during the days of the “ring”. It is shooting off C and M-class flares and is beginning to rotate towards the Earth.


Maybe a Solar Telescope will be an enjoyable hobby during the upcoming solar maximum.

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