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HomeEducationalThe Sun and Solar ActivitySunspotsThe Magnetic Fields around Sunspots Friday, Feb 23 2018 14:45 UT

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The Sun and Solar Activity

# The Magnetic Fields around Sunspots

Sunspots are dark regions on the solar surface resulting from magnetic fields. Large sunspots consist of a light outer penumbra containing a darker inner penumbra. The maximum magnetic field is found in the umbra in the middle. The field lines at this point are usually directed away from the surface, but as we travel toward the outer edge of the sunspot, the magnetic fields tend to bend over toward the edge. This is shown in the diagram below:

For a rough approximation of the strength of the maximum magnetic field in the umbra of a spot, use the formula:

Bm = 3700 A / (A + 66)

where Bm is the maximum field in Gauss and A is the spot area in millionths of the solar hemisphere. The following graph and table illustrate the values obtained using this formula:

Spot Area (10-6) Max Field Gauss
0.16
0.211
0.528
155
2110
5260
10490
20860
501600
1002200
2002800
5003300
10003500
20003600
30003600

Sunspots that are growing or decaying may show wide variations from the above figures, as the formula was derived from measurements of relatively stable spots. Note that the maximum field saturates around 3600 G, and in fact there is little change for spot areas above 1000 millionths.