Monday, 21 May 2012

AR11486 - Light Bridges & Decaying Sunspots

AR11486 by Mark Townley
AR11486, a photo by Mark Townley on Flickr.

As monster spot AR11476 departed over the suns western limb it was replaced by more regular sized AR11486 on the opposite eastern limb. This new single spot has an interesting feature visble - a light bridge - a bright ribbon of plasma that arcs across the dark umbra of the sunspot. Despite this activity this is indicative of a decaying or dying sunspot and signifies the reestablishment of the granulation within the sunspot itself. The magnetic field within a light brige is observed to both weaker and more inclined than within the surrounding umbra, and their increased brightness relative to the surrounding umbra is a clear indication that the plasma temperature in this region is higher. It has also been noted that light-bridges often show enhanced chromospheric activity, with Ha surges and chomospheric jets reported in a number of cases. Light-bridges thus seem important for releasing magnetic energy stored in the spot as well as in its decay.

Despite hazy conditions today when this shot was taken, the forecast for the coming week is unusually summer like her e in the UK, so hopefully get somemore images as the week progresses...