A mixed-up region of sunspots pointed almost directly at Earth has just emitted a major solar flare
which could cause havoc with power grids and communication networks over the next few days.
NASA's Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO) first detected the sunspot area designated AR3006 ("AR" stands for "active region") several days ago
; now the region is located near the center of the sun's visible disk.
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.
This mismatch creates an unusual situation that can cause major disturbances, called "magnetic reconnections," when the areas of differing polarity interact.