Or maybe part of a bright painting in a museum somewhere.
But no, what you see here is double sun spot #1263 as seen on August 2, 2011.
NASA says each part of the ‘double’ is big enough to swallow the earth.
So I added the mini-earths to this picture just to give you an idea of the incredible scale we’re talking about.
A blast of energy from this sun spot has already hurled a minor solar blast toward earth that could create the Northern (& Southern) Lights over the poles by Friday. We’ll see.
Sun spots like these are typically a little cooler than the ‘normal’ areas of the sun around them. And the forecast for solar activity over the next few years says it could be our quietest solar cycle in a century!
Some believe that could help keep global warming in check or possibly help cool the planet a bit because overall, less energy is directed toward earth. But not everyone agrees with that view.
If that did happen, it could buy researchers time as they fine tune the computerized forecasts that predict what might happen to earth’s climate in the future. There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done in that area!