As magnetic fields on the sun rearrange and realign, dark spots known as sunspots can appear on its surface. Since its launch, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, spacecraft has seen many fast-growing sunspots, some of which were quite large. In February 2013, scientists watched a giant sunspot form in under 48 hours that grew to over six times the size of Earth. The spot quickly evolved into what's called a delta region, in which the lighter areas around the sunspot exhibit magnetic fields that point in the opposite direction of those fields in the center. This is a fairly unstable configuration that scientists know can lead to eruptions of radiation on the sun called solar flares. Explore the images to see views of sunspots captured by SDO.
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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Images courtesy of NASA/SDO
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