Small sunspecks emerging on both solar hemispheres

In comments, Jonn-X wondered:

Dead pixels or new sunspecks (pore-ettes) ?

At first I was pretty sure I was looking at nothing, then I saw the official NOAA bulletin

http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/forecast.html

and the usual phrase, “The visible disk was spotless,” was omitted – typical practice when there’s something there, but too small to be “officially noticed.”

Anybody else see anything?

I do. I know where the dead pixels are, and have labeled them below in the SOHO MDI image. Note that there are two very small sunspecks, possibly soon to be sunspots, emerging on both sides of the equator.

Click for a full sized image

For those that don’t know. The SOHO spacecraft sensor does have some stuck pixels, and these can sometimes be cured in a “bake off” where they heat up the sensor for a few hours.

Our resident official solar physicist, Dr. Leif Svalgarrd will confirm or refute my suspicions on the categorizations of SC23 and SC24 I’m sure. For comparisons, you can also see the SOHO magnetogram.

I’ve included it also below:

UPDATE: The specks are fading, so far no observation agency has assigned a region or counted them that I know of, see the updated SOHO MDI.

SOHO Magnetogram

SOHO Magnetogram- click for larger image

UPDATED SOHO MDI:

Click for larger image

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Those are the most pathetic sunspecks I’ve seen! I often check the magnetic image to see where the sunspecks are (it’s easier than remembering the stuck pixels), but even that is lame. Perhaps they’ll grow into some worth counting, but they need some help soon.

John-X

IF either of these specklets grows into a spot, AND it’s a Cycle 24 spot, then (assuming it gets a NOAA number) September 2008 will be the first month in which Cycle 24 has managed to produce more than a single Active Region.

Andrew Upson

Aren’t those sunspecks for the same cycle’s polarity since they’re on different hemishpere’s?
REPLY: The one in the northern hemisphere is higher latitude, that makes a difference. SC23 spots at end game are close to equator. – Anthony

John-X

Ric Werme (16:25:16) :
“…I often check the magnetic image to see where the sunspecks are…”
Don’t forget the ground-based magnetograms
http://gong.nso.edu/Daily_Images/
These are updated much more frequently than the SOHO images.

Leon Brozyna

That magnetic disturbance in the southern hemisphere looks like it’s more leaning toward SC24 since it seems the white is leading – sorta. But whatever, those are really anemic spots showing, though they seem more notable than this morning. Perhaps in a few more hours we’ll see if there’s something we can hang our hats on.

Glenn

“At times of solar minimum, there are very few large sunspots, and only tiny magnetic fields can be seen all over the disk (black and white tiny dots). ”
http://solar-center.stanford.edu/solar-images/magnetograms.html

Pamela Gray

I still think that other measures are more important. Like the conveyor belt speed. The magnetic properties of the Sun that affect Earth. CME’s from sunspots. Etc… Is it possible that cycle 24 will burble along at this anemic state, even producing lots of tiny tims and still be no more active than a blank Sun in terms of these other measures? I think so. And that would be very interesting.

Bill Illis

The burnt-out pixels can be seen in the MPEG movies of the Sun where the pixels stay in one spot and do not move with the rotation of the Sun. The three SP spots on the left have been there for a few months now. (The new spots are not shown in the MPEGs yet.)
http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/data/LATEST/current_mdi_igr.mpg

Gary Plyler

Most of what has you excited in that figure are dust specks on the satellite telescope lens which are always there. The magnetogram shown here http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/data/realtime/mdi_mag/1024/latest.jpg
does show two areas of interes but the items labeled SP in your figure ate really DP (dust spots) LOL

Gary Plyler

Moral of story, always wait for the expert (Lief) to weigh in before you get excited.

Gary Plyler

Those items labeled SP for sun-specks should be labeled DP for dust specks. Those are specks of dust on the satellite telescope lens and are always there. That is why the do not show up in the magnetogram. 🙂
LOL
REPLY: SP for “stuck pixels” – Anthony

Gary Plyler

Wow, my bad. Now I see that SP means Stuck Pixel. hahaha. Us old guys are to analog. At least we can still learn.

Lee Eilers

@Gary SP stands for “Stuck Pixel”, not sun speck.

Lee Eilers

Heh. I am not quite fast enough with my comments.

Glenn

This site makes it easy to compare recent pics:
http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/data/realtime/realtime-mdi_mag.html

Gary Plyler (18:02:11) :
“Most of what has you excited in that figure are dust specks on the satellite telescope lens which are always there.”
It’s extremely unlikely those are dust spots on the optics, such critters merely block a little light and introduce a little loss of contrast. Unless the f-stop is extremely high, there’s essentially no way you’d be able to see them and less of an opportunity for them to occupy one pixel. Dust on the image sensor would be more likely, but given that a bake cycle can restore functioning for a while, they are just stuck pixels.
OT: speaking of space telescopes, Hubble’s image processing unit has failed, delaying the shuttle repair mission while folks figure out what to do about it.
http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/37004/title/Hubble_suddenly_quiet

David Archibald

http://i261.photobucket.com/albums/ii42/rhaetian/SolarCycleStartTimes19thCenturyto20.jpg
There is another way of looking at solar cycles. Solar cycles actually start with the magnetic reversal near the peak of the previous cycle. The sunspots take seven years to surface and be visible. Almost all sunspot cycles tend to be about 18.5 years long, measured from the peak of the previous cycle. The above graph compares the average of three cycles from the late 20th century with three from the late 19th century (which had much colder weather). Also included is Solar Cycle 5, the first half of the Dalton Minimum. Given we are now 103 months from the peak of Solar Cycle 23, it now appears too late to get a late 19th century-type outcome for Solar Cycle 24. Out of the 24 named solar cycles, Solar Cycle 24 is now the latest after Solar Cycle 5. It is so late that it is now in no man’s land and its weakness is now more of a consideration than lateness in itself. It is now almost certain that we will be getting a Dalton Minimum-type experience.

doug janeway

Pamela Gray (17:40:34) :
“Is it possible that cycle 24 will burble along at this anemic state, even producing lots of tiny tims and still be no more active than a blank Sun in terms of these other measures?
I posed this same scenario to Leif in the last blog, but did not get a reply. I agree that this will be a lackluster cycle for the same reasons you site. This is shaping up similarly for now to cycle 6: slow, weak ascent to a low high and back again.

Robert Bateman

The flux fell back down again today, just a blip for mid-September, and it’s back to anemic. Ergo I fully expect that these sunspecks are going to fade just as fast as 9/11’s even if they make visibility.
The flux is like fuel in the gas tank, and currently it’s running on fumes.
Nothing behind these spots. Tiny bubbles.

Robert Bateman

There’s no fizz in the bubbly.

The speck in the North is clearly SC24. The one in the South is more doubtful. My inclination would be SC23 based on its latitude, However, the magnetic axis is nearly North-South so the polarity is uncertain, but with a weak tendency to SC24 signature. So perhaps a toss up. I guess we’ll see in a few hours if SIDC [Catania] report the spots. NOAA didn’t for 29th Sept.

[…] Archibald Commenting in Watts Up With That? Small sunspecks emerging on both solar hemispheres 28 September, […]

MattN

You can’t be serious with this. Did they really assign numbers to these?!?

Pierre Gosselin

Geez…now we’re getting down to atom ant sunspots.

Leif,
Any word from Dr Livingston on magnetic flux value for the most recent spot??
Tucker

Pierre Gosselin

I’ve just had a look at the latest SOHO image. I don’t see anything.

clique2

I will have to admit to not being able to follow the theory of sunspots! However, following links takes you to some interesting sites…
http://gong.nso.edu/Daily_Images
-leads to observations of the suns magnetic field from the earth but also lets you know if it’s cloudy at the measuring site-I can invent a plausible reason but…?
From that page one fonds the link to “Farside Images”, which made me smile!
http://gong.nso.edu/data/farside
The explanation reads-
“The images show sound wave travel time variations, with locations of shorter travel times appearing darker.”
Which does sound like true “Farside”
http://bp0.blogger.com/_LY-9PTRzghw/R5XukW6AKTI/AAAAAAAABuY/ckvifmldquo/s400/penguins_polar_bear.jpg
Yes, I know, polar bears dont live with penguin but that won’t stop Big Al blaming the cartoon on global warming and does get North and South hemispheres into the picture!

i would love to see Leif’s prediction for SC25 and what drives it….speculating around the edges seems futile to me.

John-X

MattN (03:20:07) :
” You can’t be serious with this. Did they really assign numbers to these?!? ”
No, not even the Catania observatory.
So far they’re not even in the same league as the August specks.
I’ve been proposing different names for specks at the lower limit of visibility – specklets, pore-ettes, sunmites, sunfleas etc

would also love to see what David Archibald’s thoughts on the same topic?….the main question being the reason behind the prediction.

John-X

Unfortunately this continues the trend of support to the Livingston & Penn idea of diminishing contrast between the sun and its spots.
For those unfamiliar with the idea, Livingston & Penn project that if the trend continues, sunspots will vanish by 2015.

nobwainer (07:08:05) :
i would love to see Leif’s prediction for SC25 and what drives it….speculating around the edges seems futile to me.
While the prediction of SC24 is based on physics [dynamo theory] and observations [Sun’s weak polar fields], the decay of a cycle [which creates the polar fields seeding the next cycle] is random enough to be unpredictable and since observations of said fields are 7-8 years in the future, we really cannot predict SC25. Statistically, small [and large] cycles are grouped together so one can make a good guess that SC25 will be small if SC24 is.

Tucker (04:00:41) :
Any word from Dr Livingston on magnetic flux value for the most recent spot??
No, give Bill time to reduce his data first 🙂
And, no matter what the value is, remember that there is a natural spread of values, so one should not attach too much significance to a single data point.

Leon Brozyna

Looks like the sun’s freckles have faded without being assigned a number. There’s more action in the Arctic as ice forms.

John-X

We don’t have an updated SOHO continuum image from the last 8 hours or so, and with the available ground-based images, I’m not able to make out any specklets at all.
In fact, I’m now wondering what minimum criteria an area has to meet in order to be called a plage.
Here’s the definition from Stanford
http://solar-center.stanford.edu/gloss.html
” Plage.
An extended emission feature of an active region that exists from the emergence of the first magnetic flux until the widely scattered remnant magnetic fields merge with the background.
This bright feature is found in the vicinity of virtually all active sunspot groups and occurs on a larger scale and are brighter than facula. Plage is French for “beach,” because each plage looks like light-colored sand against the darker structures around them. ”
If it was never considered an “Active Region,” can it still be a plage?

John-X

Clilverd et al predict a quiet sun until ~2030
http://users.telenet.be/j.janssens/SC24Clilverd.pdf
Most interesting is their prediction for SC24: peak sunspot number 42, “+/- 34,” which means if SC24 came in at the extreme low end of their forecast, the peak SSN would be 8 !
Dikpati et al, and David Hathaway are on record as saying that, because of the currently very slow solar conveyor belt, Solar Cycle 25 will be ‘one of the weakest in centuries.’

John-X (09:25:56) :
If it was never considered an “Active Region,” can it still be a plage?
These ‘definitions’ are always a bit fluid because there are no sharp boundaries between ‘categories’. A more physical approach is that areas with high magnetic flux [greater than 1500 Gauss] appear dark while areas with smaller magnetic flux appear bright, the brightness fading as the flux fades.

Robert Bateman

The spreckles on the Sun yesterday had nothing at all behind them, not even the 4 month old
ebb of Planetary A index and Solar Wind Velocity. Heck, they never made it to visibility as far as I know of.
Did they?

John-X (09:59:15) :
Clilverd et al predict a quiet sun until ~2030
Their paper is cyclomania and assumes that solar activity is governed by several simultaneous strict cycles. There is no physical basis for such an assumption.
Dikpati et al, and David Hathaway are on record as saying that, because of the currently very slow solar conveyor belt, Solar Cycle 25 will be ‘one of the weakest in centuries.’
Dikpati et al. never claimed that [they did promise several years ago to use their model to predict SC25. A prediction run of the model takes 20 minutes… They never delivered on that promise.
Hathaway’s prediction is predicated on their model being correct, i.e. that their prediction for 24 comes out true. You can’t have a wrong prediction for SC24 and then make a credible claim for SC25 based on that same model.
SC25 will likely be small too if SC24 turns out small, just on the historical record showing that small cycles often come in groups [a counterexample is SC20].

Ray

When you look at the gpeg of the magnetogram (and this is the weird part) both micro-sunspot groups appeared at the exact same time. But there is another pair about in the middle of the northern hemisphere that also appeared at the exact same time too!!! How could three sunspot pairs of different cycles appear at the exact same time?

Steve M.

Looking at the latest SOHO image (0839, 30 Sep 08) I can’t even find those specks. Maybe someone else has better eyesight then I do. The latest magnetogram is 7 hours older, and you can still see these specks.

Tucker (04:00:41) :
Any word from Dr Livingston on magnetic flux value for the most recent spot??
The magnetic field strength was 2226 Gauss. Still on track [within the expected spread].

Tucker (04:00:41) :
Any word from Dr Livingston on magnetic flux value for the most recent spot??
The magnetic field strength was 2226 Gauss. Still on track [within the expected spread]. The contrast was 0.864 also on track [with smaller spread even].

John-X

Steve M. (10:45:41) :
” Looking at the latest SOHO image (0839, 30 Sep 08) I can’t even find those specks. Maybe someone else has better eyesight then I do. The latest magnetogram is 7 hours older, and you can still see these specks. ”
There’s now a 16:00 UTC SOHO Continuum image
http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/data/realtime/mdi_igr/512/
I squinted til my eyes bled and couldn’t see a speck.
The ground-based magnetograms
http://gong.nso.edu/Daily_Images/
show the weak BMR (bi-polar magnetic regions) pretty much unchanged

Gary Gulrud

“Clilverd et al predict a quiet sun until ~2030”
“There is no physical basis for such an assumption.”
Which means when Clilverd is proven correct, well outside any prediction of those impanelled, it doesn’t count.
All right, we had no clue, but they weren’t allowed to buy one!

Gary Gulrud (13:31:25) :
Which means when Clilverd is proven correct, well outside any prediction of those impanelled, it doesn’t count.
‘proven correct’ is much too big. Their prediction is not unique, lots of other predictions all over the place and many overlapping the Clilverd’s, including my own. So if Rmax turns out to be, say, 70 [inside the overlap], both Clilverd and I [and many others] are ‘proven correct’? In selecting who is ‘correct’, reasonable men will give preference to the theories that have a physical bases. Of course, it seems that there are still many unreasonable men out there [and here]…

John-X

Amazing new statement from NASA
” Spotless Sun: 2008 is the Blankest Year of the Space Age ”
http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2008/30sep_blankyear.htm?list878321

John-X

I would say there is now NO possibility of this winter NOT being blamed on the sun.
It will become as hard to tune out the “Solar Winter” noise to focus on the facts, as it is now to tune out the “AGW” noise.

John-X

I’ve said before that “AGW” will be mocked and ridiculed as never before this winter, and that is now certain.
The desperation and spin of the die hard True Believers will be something to behold.