Time-lapse image shows sunspots on the move

The composite image was put together by Senoi Sanli, an amateur astrophotographer from Turkey
In this incredible time-lapse, we can see how the sunspots change as they moved across the Sun from right to left. (Instagram/@snlsanli/NASA)

The Sun. We see it everyday (or most days, depending on the cloud cover!), and yet, how much do we know about what it looks like?

After all, you can't stare directly at the Sun. For one, it is very dangerous to do so! And even if we could, our eyesight isn't capable of making out any of the details. The star is just too bright!

But thankfully, certain cameras are capable of showing us that which we cannot see. And the details are often mesmerizing.

What usually looks like a brilliant point of light turns out to be a constantly shifting orb of roiling hot gases, all the texture of angry lava! And then there are the sunspots...

See spot sun!

These are some of the clearest evidence that we have that the Sun is 'alive and moving'. They are huge areas of magnetic disturbances and lower temperatures (for the Sun, at least!). They are often areas where solar flares and ejections happen, sending an eruption of electromagnetic radiation far out into space.

Recently, a Turkish amateur astrophotographer named Senoi Sanil used images from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory to create a beautiful time-lapse image. A time lapse takes several images of the same thing at different times then collects them into one image showing everything at once!

In this image, shown at the top of the post, we are seeing two groups of sunspots as they make their way across the surface. The images were taken between December 2 and 27, 2022. In real time, the sunspots would've moved east to west (right to left) across the Sun. In making this image, Sanil removed other spots on the Sun's surface, so we could focus on how the spots moved and changed over time.

So cool!

And for more Sun content, why not watch our General KnOWLedge video from last year on how this star burns without using oxygen?

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