If you have ever wondered how the sunflower got its name, herein may lie the answer - This beautiful picture that so resembles the flower in full bloom, is actually an image of a sunspot - the most detailed one ever captured in visible light.
Taken by the ultra-sophisticated New Solar Telescope in Big Bear, California, the Sunspot is believed to be about 12,800 km in diameter, or slightly bigger than Earth, which measures in at 12,000 km. And that's not all - while the irregular pattern around the core, referred to as granulation may look tiny, it is actually quite big, with each little speck measuring about 1000km.
Sunspots are dark spots formed when the sun's magnetic fields gets tightly concentrated and rise up to the photosphere, the Sun's visible surface. While the core or black part of the spot is hot measuring over 3,600 degrees Celsius, it is the outer petal-like area that is hotter, coming in at over 5,800 degrees Celsius. The contrast between the two temperatures is the reason the core appears to be black - In reality, it is almost as bright as a full moon.
Besides being beautiful, Sunspots, which can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, are a key to studying Space weather, which in turn helps scientists understand the weather patterns of our planet.
Sources: exploratorium.edu, windows2universe.org,dailymail.co.uk