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The latest sunspot region to traverse the face of the Sun has nearly doubled in size as it aims Earthward, as seen in the animation above from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. (Click image to play the animation.)
This is the second day in a row that the region has been seen expanding.
According to SpaceWeather.com, active region 1416 has the right sort of magnetic energy to potentially send M-class flares our way.
M-class flares are medium-sized solar flares. They can cause brief radio blackouts that affect Earth’s polar regions. Minor radiation storms sometimes follow an M-class flare event.
If AR1416 produces a flare over the next 24 hours we would likely see increased auroral activity in upper latitudes early next week.
Images courtesy NASA/SDO and the AIA and HMI science teams.
Also, check out Alan Boyle’s article on MSNBC’s Cosmic Log about this and a recent heart-shaped coronal mass ejection that occurred on Friday, sending a cloud of charged particles on a Valentine’s Day date with our magnetosphere. It should be a Sun-kissed night in northern parts of the world!