The sudden and rapid growth of a sunspot has got many people excited. Sunspot AR 3038 grew three times as big as Earth in the last few days, it’s on the side of the Sun that's facing us, and it has enough magnetism to release a powerful flare.
Even if it were to flare – and it’s already moving away from the Earth’s direction – it is unlikely to create much damage, as Spaceweather.com estimates it could do an M-class flare based on data from the Solar Dynamic Observatory. M-class flares are medium size and can cause the occasional brief radio blackout, especially in polar regions.
The sunspot is certainly big, but humans are seen bigger in recent years. In 2003, one of the biggest was spotted with a diameter the size of Jupiter – that’s roughly 11 times the Earth. This sunspot is still small fry in comparison, but seeing it change is still extremely cool.
The Sun is picking up activity as we go toward the maximum of its 11-year cycle. So far this year, there’s only been one day without sunspots on the solar surface, a clear indication of solar action ramping up.