More Violent Tantrums
Because sunspots are caused by intense magnetic fields, they give rise to even more violent activity in the photosphere of the Sun. One of these is the solar prominence. This is the spectacular display of hot plasma looping out into space and back to the photosphere.
Prominences are explosions of plasma shot into space by magnetic disruptions around sunspots. The ends of the prominence will be near two sunspots of opposite polarity. What happens is the magnetic fields interfere with each other. They get twisted and plasma between the two breaks free and rockets into space at velocities as high as 1300 km/sec. The plasma is still bound to the sun by the fields however, and cannot escape.
Another, sometimes unseen except by x-ray, infra red and other specialized cameras, is a solar flare. These expulsions of plasma into space can and often do disrupt communications on Earth, and even knock out our power grids.
The difference between a prominence and a flare is distinct. A prominence is an eruption of plasma generated by the magnetic field of two sunspots--their north and south poles. Both ends of the prominence remain connected to these sunspots.
A solar flare, on the other hand, results when magnetic fields become disconnected and shear. A field is left without a companion and collapses with a tremendous release of energy. This expels huge amounts of plasma from the photosphere into space. If Earth is in the way, all manner of disruptions occur.