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This solar image was taken by the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager on-board the Solar Dynamics Observatory on Aug 1, 2011 and shows the sunspot configuration as of this date. Sunspot 1261 has a "beta-gamma-delta" magnetic field that harbors energy for X-class solar flares.
An active region observed in extreme ultraviolet light burst out with a short-lived M9.3 flare that originated from sunspot 1261 and began at about 10:02 p.m. EDT and ended around 10:12 p.m. EDT on July 29, 2011.
Because the location of the eruption and its sunspot at that time, the associated high-energy particles went wide of Earth and had little terrestrial effects. The region that unleashed the flare has now rotated to be facing Earth and possesses the kind of magnetic field characteristics that could produce more solar storms. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory will continue to keep an ever-watching eye on the Sun for more eruptive events.
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This video taken by SDO in extreme ultraviolet light shows the M9.3-class solar flare generated by sunspot 1261 on July 29, 2011. The black diagonal line in the upper right is part of a coronal hole. Credit: NASA/SDO/AIA