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The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) captured the Sun releasing a massive solar flare on Nov. 3, 2011. The image - which was selected as "Picture of the Week" on Space Oddities - concerns scientists because it shows astronomers how serious flares can be. This one happened to be an X-class, is the most powerful type of flare. Credit: NASA/SDO

From Discovery News:

There’s a storm brewing on the sun’s surface and it could unleash its magnetic fury on Earth within the next five days.

That ominous warning comes from solar scientists at the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center who are tracking a huge group of sunspots that are slowly rotating to face our planet. As imaged by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) in Friday, this is the largest group of sunspots seen on the sun since 2005. The largest sunspot is 17-times the width of the Earth.

Active region 1339 has been crackling with flare activity — for now blasting the majority of its energy away from us — but on Thursday, it showed solar astronomers what it’s capable of; erupting with the most powerful type of flare.

I wonder what these storms will bring. More auroras in unusual places? How about satellite interruption, or even worse, loss of power? Maybe nothing. Only time will tell.

If you happen to see auroras this week, take pictures and send one to lillian.m.ortiz@gmail.com. We’ll post your pictures here on Space Oddities.

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