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Mixed-up sunspot emits powerful solar flare

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A mixed-up region of sunspots pointed almost directly at Earth has just emitted a major solar flare 

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which could cause havoc with power grids and communication networks over the next few days.

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NASA's Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO) first detected the sunspot area designated AR3006 ("AR" stands for "active region") several days ago 

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; now the region is located near the center of the sun's visible disk.  

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SDO images show a spot near the region’s center has the reverse magnetic polarity of the surrounding area– meaning its magnetic field lines are pointing the opposite direction than the field lines nearby. 

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This mismatch creates an unusual situation that can cause major disturbances, called "magnetic reconnections," when the areas of differing polarity interact.

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