Importance of Sunspot Study
Why is so important to review the sunspots? What happens
if two of these spots come together?
A very good question. We study the sunspots because they are a very
good indicator of how active the Sun is. A large group of sunspot
means that there may be other things and events going on as well,
like flares and prominences. If two spots come together (it
happened today! 17.December.2009) then they simply make one bigger spot.
All the best
David H. Levy
The main reason for observing sunspot activity, nowadays, is that it
can interfere with power grids and sensitive equipment on board
satellites. Previously, it was the fact that we did not know much
about the Sun that we studied it. A hundred years ago, we did not
even know that the Sun was nuclear-powered.
Sunspots appear in regions, and they can merge quite easily WITHIN
their respective regions. However, there are only a few cases of
regions merging. In most cases (>95%), regions do avoid each other.
This is because they are magnetic. If two regions are north and
south of each other, and in the same hemisphere, then there would be
a rather distinct clear area between them. It is only when regions
are end-on when the trailing spots of one can 'intermingle' with the
leading spots of the other region, but this rarely happens. I can
only think of two cases in the last 30 years.
Here is an on-line article that will tell you pretty much all you need to
know about sun spots. You can also pursue the subject deeper using your
search engines on the Happy
Sunspots are electromagnetic (EM) storms on the surface of the sun that
spew large amounts of highly energetic sub-atomic particles into space. We
need to monitor sunspots because sunspots effect all things electric and our
world is becoming more and more dependent on electrical systems to run our
daily lives and run critical systems that we depend on. We have experienced
sunspot events that break our communications links by frying satellites,
communications switching nodes, and disrupting the ionosphere (which we use
to propagate radio signals in the High Frequency (HF) radio spectrum of 3
MHz - 30 MHz) and by causing power surges on electrical power lines that
trip circuit breakers. They also pose a danger to astronauts in space.
So we need to learn more about sunspots, perhaps how to predict them, learn
more about what they are, and how to build our systems so they are protected
against the EM effects of sunspots. Maybe one day in the future, you will
be able to figure out a way to exploit the energy transmitted to us by
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Update: June 2012