SDO Spots Largest Sunspots In Years
November 4, 2011

SDO Spots Largest Sunspots In Years

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) spotted one of the largest new sunspots to have appeared on the surface of the sun in years.

The area is nearly 25,000 miles wide, which is over three times larger than the Earth.

NASA said the region has already experienced about eight solar flares, including an M-class flare on November 2.

The space agency also said that X-class flares are possible, which includes the largest possible solar flares.

The sun shot off a flare from this region on Thursday that scientists are calling a "benevolent monster."

Thursday's flare was not aimed towards Earth, but this region is slowly turning toward Earth and scientists believe it will be directly facing Earth in about five days.

Joe Kunches of the federal Space Weather Prediction Center told the ASsociated Press that a storm region will only affect Earth if it shoots off flares and they hit our planet. 

He said the region will be facing Earth for about two weeks.

The sun had been in a quiet end of its cycle for the past several years, and Kunches said it is finally getting back to normal activity.

"The sun is looking more like we think it should at this point in the solar cycle," Kunches said in a statement. "It's got a number of active centers."

Solar cycles take place in 11-year periods, and this cycle has had fewer storms than usual.


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