Science and Tech
You Shall Not Pass! ...This Strange Science Pic Quiz

Marshall Lemon | 14 Nov 2014 18:00
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Wait... has science just proved that Sauron exists? Does that mean Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye need to form a new fellowship to destroy the One Ring at Mount Doom?

Well, I don't know about that (although it would be awesome) but the more rational answer is that this is a sunspot. It's a fairly common phenomenon where magnetic forces inhibit convection of a specific surface area on the sun. That drives down the temperature of the sunspot by 1000 to 3000 degrees Fahrenheit, and sometimes makes them so large (up to 100,000 miles) that you can spot them from Earth without a telescope. What's even more impressive is that since sunspots are powered by magnetism, you'll usually find a second one sitting on the other side of the sun like it's growing a new set of black magnetic poles.

But the really cool thing? Sunspots aren't actually black. They might look like that from Earth, but that's because the rest of the sun is so much brighter by comparison. If you were to (carefully) remove a sunspot from the surface of the Sun, you'd realize it was brighter than the moon in our night sky. Then you'd be vaporized because you touched a sunspot. You should've just taken our word on it.

Oh, and to anyone needing the reminder: Please do not look directly into sunspots. You might as well put the ring on and alert Sauron to your presence while you're at it. At least that way you wouldn't go blind.

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