8.3 light-minutes

Why are there dark spots on the Sun? For decades these sunspots have been known as regions that are slightly depressed and cooled by the Sun's complex and changing magnetic field. Solar flares, or outbursts, emanate from these sunspots. NASA's SOHO mission recorded a giant eruption from this sunspot, throwing out energetic particles that hit the Earth 48 hours later. Such events can disrupt satellite communications but also cause dramatic aurora known as "the Northern Lights".

Credit: Jack Newton.

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