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This image is a product of the work done with Marshall Space Flight Center's Vector Magnetograph. The contours represent one component of the vector magnetic field (the line-of-sight component). The tickmarks represent the direction of the other component (the transverse) of the field.
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(130 kB jpeg image)
By studying the orientation of the transverse component of the field with respect to the neutral line*, scientists may be able to predict the probability of a solar flare.
*neutral line -- where the positive and negative polarities of the magnetic field of each individual spot cancel, here where the solid red and dashed blue lines come together.
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