GIANT SUNSPOT CRACKLING WITH FLARES: AR2192 is the biggest sunspot in nearly 25 years, and it is still growing. The active region now covers 2750 millionths of the solar disk, an area equivalent to 33 planet Earths skinned and spread out flat. It is so large that sky watchers are seeing it with the naked eye when the sun is dimmed by low-hanging clouds or, in this case, dense fog:
Barry Freas took the picture on October 26th from Red Hill, Kentucky. "It was a very foggy morning," he says. "AR2192 was remarkable."
Big sunspots tend to produce strong flares, and AR2192 is no exception. It is crackling with magnetic activity. In the past three days alone it has unleashed 3 X-class flares and 8 M-flares. The most intense of these flares have caused HF radio blackouts and other communication disturbances on the dayside of Earth.
Usually, strong flares are accompanied by massive CMEs--billion-ton clouds of electrified gas that billow away from the blast site. So far, however, none of the eruptions from AR2192 has produced a major CME. Without a series of CMEs to hit Earth and rattle our planet's magnetic field, there have been no geomagnetic storms nor any widespread auroras.
More eruptions are in the offing. NOAA forecasters estimate an 85% chance of M-class flares and a 55% chance of X-flares during the next 24 hours.