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Posted by Specola

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

It was larger than the Earth. It was so big you could actually see it on the Sun's surface without magnification. It contained powerful and tangled magnetic fields as well as numerous dark sunspots. Labelled AR 3664, it developed into one of the most energetic areas seen on the Sun in recent years, unleashing a series of explosions that led to a surge of energetic particles striking the Earth, which created beautiful auroras. And might continue. Although active regions on the Sun like AR 3664 can be quite dangerous, this region's Coronal Mass Ejections have not done, as yet, much damage to Earth-orbiting satellites or Earth-surface electrical grids. Pictured, the enormous active region was captured on the setting Sun a few days ago from Civitavecchia, Rome, Italy. The composite image includes a very short exposure taken of just the Sun's surface, but mimics what was actually visible. Finally, AR 3664 is now rotating away from the Earth, although the region may survive long enough to come around again. Gallery: Earth Aurora from Solar Active Region 6443

Photo by Marco Meniero

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