Sunspots have great magnetic forces, which fluctuate in intensity and polarity as does Earth’s magnetic field.
When the magnetic field of a sunspot loses its stability, it can cause a violent explosion, called a flare.
Flares look like sudden brilliant stars within a star, generally lasting less than an hour. The explosion sends shock waves through the chromosphere, the layer above the surface, releasing energy, massive radiation, and particles of the Sun.
If it weren’t for the protection of Earth’s atmosphere, the incoming radiation, especially the dangerous ultraviolet and X rays, would cause the complete extinction of life on the planet.
As it is, such solar activity creates massive atmospheric magnetic storms and can damage spacecraft and supersonic jets.
Flares, prominences, and spicules are abrupt outbursts of the incredible energy within the Sun.
The Sun’s energy is fueled by thermonuclear fusion, like the destructive energy of a hydrogen bomb.
These solar displays can be seen only with special equipment designed for astronomers to protect their eyes.