Tags: sunspot | sun | solar | flare
Image: Giant Sunspot Blasts Solar Flares Into Space
Sunspot Ar 1476 compared with the size of Earth, shown as a tiny dot, in an image released Friday. (NASA/SDO Photo)

Giant Sunspot Blasts Solar Flares Into Space

Friday, 11 May 2012 03:41 PM

A huge sunspot about the size of the planet Jupiter is firing powerful solar flares as it moves across the surface of the sun, according to a Space.com report. First sighted by space telescopes on May 5, NASA scientists report that the sunspot is 60,000 miles wide.

"Solar activity has been at high levels for the past 24 hours with multiple M-class solar flares observed," stated an update from the Space Weather Prediction Center, a joint service of NOAA and the National Weather Service.

The monster sunspot, officially labeled “Sunspot AR 1476,” unleashed a powerful flare at 12:18 a.m. EDT that registered as a class M5.7 eruption, Space.com reported.

X-class storms are the most powerful and can interfere with satellites and infrastructure on Earth, Space.com reported. M-class storms — like the one recorded early Friday morning — are the second-most powerful flares and can set off geomagnetic storms that create dazzling northern lights displays when the eruptions reach Earth.

AR 1476 has so far produced seven M-class flares.

"These flares were all short-lived and there were no associated coronal mass ejections, so we do not expect any geomagnetic storms on Earth," NASA officials said, according to Space.com.

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