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Space weather storms from the Sun - Windows to the Universe

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Sunspots and space weather storms
News story originally written on October 24, 2003

Two very large groups of sunspots have appeared on the Sun. Each of the groups is about as big as the planet Jupiter, which is the largest planet in our Solar System! Sunspots are places on the Sun where the Sun's magnetic field is all tangled up. These tangled magnetic fields create storms called solar flares and CMEs. Some storms from these two big sunspot groups reached Earth on Friday, 24 October 2003.

When a space weather storm like this reaches Earth, the radiation from the storm can cause problems. The storm can damage satellites and might even make the electricity go out. Don't worry, though - Earth's magnetic field does a pretty good job of protecting us from the radiation. The storms also have a good side - they create the Northern Lights!

Last modified October 24, 2003 by Randy Russell.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF