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Cool Photo: A Black Spot, The Size Of Six Earths, Appears On The Sun

By NPR Staff | 02/20/2013

Over the course of two days in February, scientists watched something amazing happening on the surface of our sun: A giant black spot grew to over six Earths in diameter.

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center released a picture of the sun, which shows the spots in deep black.

NASA explains that it's hard to know the full extent of the spots, because it's on a sphere "not a flat disk." NASA adds:

"The spot quickly evolved into what's called a delta region, in which the lighter areas around the sunspot, the penumbra, exhibit magnetic fields that point in the opposite direction of those fields in the center, dark area. This is a fairly unstable configuration that scientists know can lead to eruptions of radiation on the sun called solar flares."

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