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This Is What a Sunspot Looks Like
December 18, 2010 5:02 PM   Subscribe

The most detailed photo of the surface of the sun looks like this. It was taken by the team at CA's Big Bear Solar Observatory. They have some other neat images of our nearest star at their website.

**This post is very slightly NSFW if you scroll down to the imaginative photo comments. You'll see what I mean haha :P
posted by fantodstic (46 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
What an anal photograph.
posted by bwg at 5:08 PM on December 18, 2010


It's just nature doin' it's thing.
posted by fantodstic at 5:09 PM on December 18, 2010


Christ, what an asshole
posted by fungible at 5:13 PM on December 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


I'm looking forward to a shower of hilarious comments, metafilter!
posted by fantodstic at 5:13 PM on December 18, 2010


Jesus, couldn't you at least have tagged that as NSFW?
posted by jacquilynne at 5:14 PM on December 18, 2010


I'm not seeing what's so special. Photos like this come out of Big Bear Observatory all the time.

Wait, a picture of the sun you say?
posted by griphus at 5:14 PM on December 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


goat.cxun
posted by eyeballkid at 5:15 PM on December 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


I've always known that the sun shines out of my ass....
and now I know that an ass shines out of the sun. :P
posted by Monkeymoo at 5:18 PM on December 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Nothing new.
posted by battlebison at 5:22 PM on December 18, 2010


I'm pretty sure that's Uranus.
posted by Hlewagast at 5:37 PM on December 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


if one wants to look and realy spectular photos of outer space, skip these plsain photos of the sun and zoom in on photos of ORION nebula.
posted by tustinrick at 5:44 PM on December 18, 2010


hawt!
posted by nomadicink at 5:44 PM on December 18, 2010


How-come we've never seen more detailed shots of sunspots? They're not really that small.

Pretty freaky looking.
posted by delmoi at 5:45 PM on December 18, 2010


Don't stare at it too long.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:50 PM on December 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


"if one wants to look and realy spectular photos of outer space, skip these plsain photos of the sun and zoom in on photos of ORION nebula."

He's right.
posted by fantodstic at 5:52 PM on December 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Man, you know the longest night comes around a total lunar eclipse this year? We might as well just hand ourselves to the vampires on a platter.
posted by The Whelk at 5:53 PM on December 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sauron's little-known brother, Sphincter.
posted by bwg at 5:55 PM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm looking forward to a shower of hilarious comments, metafilter!

Well, if you will post at this time on a Saturday evening....
posted by jontyjago at 5:57 PM on December 18, 2010


These photos give a detailed (macro) view. Although they aren't as risque as the ones in TFA, they are still neato. They're especially impressive considering they were taken by an amateur astronomer.
posted by chebucto at 6:01 PM on December 18, 2010


I've got one of those!
posted by marxchivist at 6:15 PM on December 18, 2010


They think the arse shines out of their sun.
posted by a non e mouse at 6:19 PM on December 18, 2010


Christ, what an ass Sol.
posted by hypersloth at 6:19 PM on December 18, 2010 [7 favorites]


What gets me is the scale...

sun details as small as 45 kilometers in optimal conditions.

So the smallest thing we can see on the sun with this incredibly advanced instrument is... 45 miles across.

So that roiling fire... none of those details are smaller than 50 miles across.
posted by flaterik at 6:20 PM on December 18, 2010


If you stare at it for a while and then close your eyes, you'll see a BMW logo.
posted by briank at 6:24 PM on December 18, 2010


Looks like Gizmodo's users like to fill their comments sections with Photoshop attempts.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:28 PM on December 18, 2010


Looks like Gizmodo's users like to fill their comments sections with Photoshop attempts.

I̢̖̤̻̜̘̊͐̀̿̃̆ͬ ͕̭ǎ̴̮̮̱̭ͮ̓ͩͨm̪͍̑̈́̈́̔̄ ̩̖̟̋ͦs̅̒ͧ͋ͫ̋͗͢o̩̬͙̬͛̔ͩ͌͌ͧ̓ ͍͚̺͕ͯ̈ͮ͐͋͊ͪg̮̯̞̫ͅl̴̙̗̾a̮͓̭̍ͦͯ͘d̪͎̺̳̤̀̆̋̀ ̸̣̞̦͍ͥͫw̨̼̯͚͎̱͇̞͑̄̃̃ͧ̂eͭ͐ͩ̊҉̫ ̜͆ͪ̾̎̑ͫ̀d̴̝̳̙͔͋͐ͬͥͬ͐ͫͅo̴̲̲̠̮n͙̬̩̼ͣ̊ͧ͞'̷͇͗ͥͫ͌ͫ̀̇t̞̖̘̬̼̯ͭ̏ͭ ̮̭͖̺̅̈́h̯̲͙̫̪a̯͙͖̪̥̫ͬ͆͒vͩ̑ͫͬ҉̯͓̥̳̣̠e͍̼̞͎̋̆̀ ̵͓̆̾̍ͦ̂ͭ̈ţ̰͓̰ͧͬͩh͔̮ͧͨ̄͒ͮ͞ā͍̍̚͠t̀̌́̄ ͊f̰͛̌͑͋̏̇̿e͈̠̥̮͖a̠̞̯̭̮̘ͫ̓̿̄̌ͥ̄́t̩̟͙͉̣ͩu̩̳ͤ̀̾r̋ͫͯ҉̖̟̼͚͍̹ẹ̸̙̟͙̾ͮͫ͌ͧ̚ ̙̖ͨ̒ͭ̓ͩa͕̺̝͕͉̅͒̈ͣ͘ͅn̷̮̫͔̹͕̆͆ͣ̒y̼̣̬̬̜̦ͥͫm̜͇̹͔̖̤͓̓ͪõ̶̼̟͕͉ͫ͛̔r̸̞͇͓̥̺͎̖ͧ̈͂̄͒̎e҉͉͈͔̯̗.
posted by griphus at 6:35 PM on December 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh man, that one by hawkeye18 made me think of this mr show sketch
posted by symbioid at 6:45 PM on December 18, 2010


Personally, I like Sunny the Solar Observabot on the lower right corner of their page.
posted by maxwelton at 7:22 PM on December 18, 2010


After staring at it I closed my eyes and found myself wanting to buy a BMW.
posted by cgk at 7:35 PM on December 18, 2010


I wonder what Georges Batailles would make of this.
posted by stinkycheese at 7:43 PM on December 18, 2010


Or Bataille even.
posted by stinkycheese at 7:46 PM on December 18, 2010


ok now i got this stuck in my head

black hole sun - cibo matto (youtube)
posted by lapolla at 7:48 PM on December 18, 2010


It was taken by the team at CA's Big Bear Solar Observatory.

At first I was wondering when they had put a big care bear into orbit...
posted by Evilspork at 7:57 PM on December 18, 2010


*
posted by dhartung at 8:22 PM on December 18, 2010


Don't stare at it too long.

Heh, when I was a young kid, I was convinced that staring at a picture of the sun would make me go blind. All I got in counter was just insistence that it wouldn't, which didn't reassure me very much.

I wish my parents would have actually explained the difference between staring at a fusion reactor and using reflected light to examine an image of one. :)
posted by Malor at 9:12 PM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sol, what an asshole.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:41 PM on December 18, 2010


"Man, you know the longest night comes around a total lunar eclipse this year? We might as well just hand ourselves to the vampires on a platter."

But at least we won't have to worry about the werewolves?
posted by Jacqueline at 10:25 PM on December 18, 2010


9:13, Personal note: When I was a little kid my mother told me not to stare into the sun.
posted by malocchio at 10:27 PM on December 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


We have a lot in common. My mom told me if I didn't stop playing with it I would go blind. Good times.
posted by Senator at 10:56 PM on December 18, 2010


Huh, it doesn't really look like anything we haven't seen before. But since there are nothing but asinine comments, I figure I should drop some science in case folks want to know what they're looking at here.

The Sun is, as you know, a big ball of gas (plasma, really). But the part of it we see is called the photosphere—which is a shell like our atmosphere but emits all the photons we see. This is the only part of the sun we see. Because each layer of gas/plasma absorbs the energy of the layer below it and releases a different amount of energy to the layers above it. This is why the sun is yellowish (the peak for a 5600 K blackbody curve is in the yellow frequency range) despite the fact that the core of the Sun has a temperature in the neighborhood of 17 million Kelvin. This energy is carried out through the photosphere in part by convection. Look at the image again. It looks kind of like a bunch of cells, or a bit like cork. What you're looking at are actually convection cells, called granules. Hot plasma (lighter colored because it's brighter/hotter) rises in the center of the cell, then falls back towards the core (visible as the cooler/darker boundaries of each cell).

Now this plasma is not only hot, but it's highly charged. The stellar furnace has a way of stripping particles right off of an atom (o hai plasma). Charged particles, as they move, create a magnetic field. The Sun's magnetic field is many orders of magnitude greater than Earth's. I mean, it's really fucking powerful. So as the Sun spins, its magnetic field gets twisted up. Remember, the sun is fluid, so different latitudes (and depths) can spin at different speeds, creating little kinks like the ones you'd get if you twisted up a telephone cord. These magnetic field pockets are actually strong enough to grab the hot, rising plasma and go, "Oh no you don't!" and keep it from surfacing. So you get what we call a sunspot. No hot plasma escaping = relatively dark/cool patch on the surface of the sun. Those little streamers towards the center? Those are actually the edges of those surrounding granules. You are, in effect, looking down a large hole in the photosphere—not unlike looking down a well or mineshaft. So yeah, it's going to look like an asshole or a pupil because the principle is the same. In other words, congratulations, you have learned to identify what a hole looks like. You must be so proud.

Yeah, I know, "We're just having fun, Capt. Bringdown." First and foremost, it's Lieutenant Commander Bringdown, and second, well, maybe I'd find it funnier if my father hadn't touched my butthole.
posted by Eideteker at 11:06 PM on December 18, 2010 [11 favorites]


Here are some sunspots sketched in 1875 (Étienne Léopold Trouvelot)
posted by robot at 12:37 AM on December 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


But mama malocchio & Senator, that's where the fun is.
posted by perspicio at 1:26 AM on December 19, 2010


goat.cxun
posted by eyeballkid at 7:15 PM on December 18


Oh dammit, you know I can't help myself.
posted by louche mustachio at 2:01 AM on December 19, 2010


So a sunspot is a hole in the Sun? (Well, in its photosphere) That blows my mind, for some reason.

But I don't really understand why it appears dark. Eideteker says the captive plasma is cooler than the surroundings, which is why it appears darker - OK, I get that part, but why is it cooler? Where did its heat energy go? Seems like, if the magnetic field is hanging onto it so strongly, the energy wouldn't be able to leak out by convection, so what's going on here?

Thanks in advance, Lt. Cmdr.
posted by Quietgal at 10:13 AM on December 19, 2010


The plasma cools by radiating heat and light into space.
posted by ryanrs at 11:33 AM on December 19, 2010


Preparation H will fix that puppy up.
posted by stormpooper at 12:28 PM on December 19, 2010


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