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Massive sunspot sending violent flares toward Earth

Though the sunspot is active, it has yet produce a coronal mass ejection
By Brooks Hays   |   Oct. 24, 2014 at 4:22 PM

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24 (UPI) -- Sunspot region AR2192 on the solar surface is currently both massive and active, scientists with NASA say. So big, in fact, that the sunspot is visible -- with a properly protected eye -- from the Earth's surface.

Though the sunspot is active, regularly shooting out significantly sized solar flares, it has yet produce a coronal mass ejection, the high-energy burst of plasma that can interfere with communication satellites, disrupt electrical grids, and spawn the awe-inspiring polar light shows known as auroras.

"This is the largest sunspot group since November of 1990," Doug Biesecker, a scientist at the National Weather Service Space Weather Prediction Center, told the Washington Post.

According to NASA, this particular sunspot region began forming in 2008 and has slowly expanded. Sunspot regions are cooler areas on the sun's surface; the spots allow for magnetic fields to loop and leap up and out of the sun and into the chromosphere. This sunspot, the largest in 20 years, stretches 80,000 miles across.

The largest sunspot in history was observed in 1947; it was three times larger than this year's.

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