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Space weather storms from the Sun
News story originally written on October 24, 2003

Two gigantic sunspot groups have recently appeared on the Sun and are generating tremendous space weather storms. The sunspot groups (known as group 484 and group 486) are about as large as the planet Jupiter. It is very unusual for two sunspot groups this large to appear on the Sun at the same time. Sunspots, which are the visible manifestations of regions where strong magnetic fields reach the surface of the Sun, are often indicators of high levels of solar activity. These two large groups have generated powerful solar flares and Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs).

A CME generated by group 484 reached Earth on Friday, 24 October 2003, bombarding our planet with radiation and energetic protons and electrons. Such "space weather storms" produce spectacular displays of aurora and can damage satellites, disrupt electrical power distribution grids, and interfere with radio communications. These two large sunspot groups may continue to hurl such storms towards Earth for the next couple of weeks.

Last modified October 24, 2003 by Randy Russell.

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