A Mixed Up Sunspot

May 10, 2022: Sunspot AR3006 is having an identity crisis. It is supposed to have a +/- magnetic field. Mostly it does. But deep inside the sunspot’s primary core, the polarity is opposite: -/+. Note the circled region in this magnetic map of the sunspot from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory:

The mixture of magnetic polarities makes this sunspot interesting and dangerous. When opposite polarities bump together, it can light the fuse of magnetic reconnection–the explosive power source of solar flares. If AR3006 flares today, it will be geoeffective. The sunspot is directly facing Earth.

Update: The sunspot *did* flare today. An X1.5 class explosion on May 10th (1355 UT) caused a radio backout over the Atlantic Ocean and may have hurled a complicated CME toward Earth. Solar flare alerts: SMS Text

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