Sunspots come in many sizes and shapes and are locations of strong magnetic fields that extend from below the solar surface through the solar atmosphere into the interplanetary medium. They are also the locations of eruptive phenomena, such as flares, that release a tremendous amount of energy and can disrupt technology on Earth.
German scientists say they've confirmed something long suspected: that the weather in some regions of Earth is influenced by the sun's 11-year cycle of activity.
Predicting solar flares is going to become increasingly important as the sun hits the most active phase of its 11-year cycle.
Sunspots could be set to disappear altogether after the next solar maximum, new studies indicate.
NASA believes it's found an explanation for the recent period of decreased solar activity during the sun's 11-year cycle - the deepest solar minimum seen in almost 100 years.