Enormous Ring is Developing on the Sun
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.
Sun image from SDO (NASA)