Welcome to solar cycle 24
An area in the northern hemisphere of the solar disk at a rather high latitude with a leading negative and trailing positive polarity is spotted: this could be the first indication of the start of solar cycle 24!
posted: Dec 13, 2007

The magnetic configuration of bipolar sunspots with leading positive/negative polarity in the northern/southern hemisphere, is associated with solar cycle 23. The big spot in the MDI/magnetogram is such a typical example of a sunspot of cycle 23 in the southern solar hemisphere: inward magnetic field lines on the right and outward pointing field lines on the left. This spot is also located near the equator as it should according to the butterfly diagrams which pictures the drift of the sunspots from high latitudes to the equator (0°) during a solar cycle. According to the butterfly rule, the spot in the red circle belongs to cycle 24.

The black/white colours in the magnetogram indicate the concentration of negative/positive magnetic field lines along the line of sight. A photospheric dark spot, concentration of magnetic field lines, a coronal active region, coronal loops, these are all characteristics of the same feature which is often the source of solar activity. Each characteristic is associated with a certain layer of the sun. The area indicated in the red ellips on the picture has not yet a photospheric counterpart. In simple words, there is no sunspot (yet) seen at this place.