The flow of high-speed solar wind over the past weekend fell into the Earth’s magnetic field (Feb 16/17), causing intermittent auroras around the Arctic circle. The gaseous material is flowing from a wide hole in the sun’s atmosphere.
The face of the sun is blank (most part of time).
The absence of sunspots heralds the approach of Solar Minimum. Sunspot numbers rise and fall with an ~11-year period, slowly oscillating between Solar Max and Solar Min. In 2018, the pendulum is swinging toward a deep minimum expected to reach nadir during the next 2 years.
NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory is monitoring the sunspot’s magnetic canopy. A sunspot’s magnetic canopy is where solar flares happen. Magnetic lines of force criss, cross, and explode in a process known as “magnetic reconnection.” Now the active zone has left the face of the Sun.