HomeAstronomyIncredible time-lapse photo captures the sun during an 8-year sunspot peak

Incredible time-lapse photo captures the sun during an 8-year sunspot peak

A time-lapse image of two major sunspot groups moving across the surface of the sun between Dec. 2 and Dec. 27, 2022, captured by Şenol Şanlı. (Image credit: Şenol Şanlı)

A stunning new time-lapse photo shows two bands of shape-shifting sunspots moving across the sun’s surface as our host star spins at the center of the solar system. When the mesmerizing image was captured, the total number of sunspots was at its highest in eight years, suggesting that solar activity is about to ramp up another notch.   

Şenol Şanlı (opens in new tab), an amateur astrophotographer based in Bursa, Turkey, created the new image using data from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. The photo (opens in new tab), which Şanlı shared on his Instagram account on Jan. 3, is a composite of individual snaps taken between Dec. 2 and Dec. 27, 2022. The two bands of evolving clusters in the image belong to a pair of particularly large sunspot groups: A3176, located to the north of the sun’s equator; and A3153, in the sun’s southern hemisphere, both of which moved from east to west (right to left in the image). Şanlı digitally removed other visible sunspots on the sun’s surface from this period, allowing the observer to track the minute changes in the sunspot groups over time. 

Related: Can sunspots affect the weather?

A close up shot of the evolving sunspots. (Image credit: Şenol Şanlı)

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