Scientists have detected the largest sunspot region in more than 20 years — and it's aiming solar flares toward Earth.
The solar flares from the sunspot could eventually turn into a solar storm and create a coronal mass ejection (CME), which could cause auroras and disrupt Earth's power grids. The sunspot cluster in question, AR12192, is "the largest sunspot group since November of 1990," Dough Biesecker, a researcher at the National Weather Service Space Weather Prediction Center, told The Washington Post.
AR12192 is approximately the size of Jupiter — more than 80,000 miles wide — and is being observed by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. It has recently released two X-class solar flares, which caused temporary power blackouts. Observatories are now monitoring the sunspot region for further activity and to determine whether the sunspot region may release more solar flares.
Sunspot clusters, dark patches in the sun's photosphere that are cooler than other regions of the sun, are visible on the sun's surface and have active regions of solar magnetism. The largest sunspot ever detected was seen in 1947 and was three times the size of AR12192.