A sunspot the size of the Earth
The mysterious dark spots on the surface of the Sun can be as big as a planet.
A view of a sunspot on the solar surface, visible here as a dark collection of plasma with magnetic field strengths similar to those found in modern hospital MRI machines. However, it is the size of the sunspot, which is comparable to that of our own Earth (see the scale Earth depicted in the lower-right corner), that gives these structures immense power and energy.
Recent work published in Nature Physics reveals first-time evidence for how a rare breed of magnetic waves, which originate within the centre of sunspots, can form shockwaves that heat the surrounding plasma by thousands of degrees.