NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory has captured a stunning view of a sunspot cascading from tail to core across the sun's surface.
As the sun moves into a several-year period of low solar activity, known as the solar minimum, there are fewer of these black blemishes. The word "sunspot" may suggest that the feature is diminutive, and the sun's massive size does dwarf the seemingly floating feature by comparison. But don't let the name mislead you: Sunspots are actually larger than Earth. [In Photos: Amazing Sunspots on Earth's Star]
The new video, shared by NASA yesterday (July 12), offers a model to grasp how distance can distort our comprehension of scale.
Sunspots are abundant when solar activity is high, and these spots will not become plentiful again until at least 2020, NASA officials said in a video caption. Because of the drop in solar activity, the sun was speckle-free for two days before this swirling sunspot appeared. The video was captured last week between about July 4 and July 11, according to NASA.