Feel the heat of these intense sunspots in scorching new ESO images

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Jan 24, 2017

No amount of sunblock will shield your skin from these searing new shots of ginormous sunspots from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile.  

The intense photos were obtained using radio interferometry (antennas recording radio waves) from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and are shocking in their vivid violence. Scientists and astronomers with the ESO are hot on using ALMA to explore, learn about and document the layer called the chromosphere, a region just above the sun’s photosphere which forms the visible surface of the sun. Sunspots are cooler, mercurial features of our precious yellow star that occur in regions where the sun's magnetic field is more concentrated. 

Here's the official explanation:

New images taken with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile have revealed otherwise invisible details of our Sun, including a new view of the dark, contorted center of a sunspot that is nearly twice the diameter of the Earth. The images are the first ever made of the Sun with a facility where ESO is a partner. The results are an important expansion of the range of observations that can be used to probe the physics of our nearest star. The ALMA antennas had been carefully designed so they could image the Sun without being damaged by the intense heat of the focused light.

"The images reveal differences in temperature between parts of the Sun's chromosphere,” the ESO said in a press release. "Understanding the heating and dynamics of the chromosphere are key areas of research that will be addressed in the future using ALMA."

Soak in these smokin' new close-up shots of sunspots and tell us if they melt your winter blues away. 

(Via Gizmodo)