What are sunspots?

Sunspots are regions on the solar surface that appear dark because they are cooler than the surrounding photosphere, typically by about 1500 K (thus, they are still at a temperature of about 4500 K, but this is cool compared to the rest of the photosphere). They are only dark in a relative sense; a sunspot removed from the bright background of the Sun would glow quite brightly. Some sunspots are as large as 50,000 miles across, and they move across the surface of the sun, contracting and expanding as they go.

The sun has a magnetic field that is twisted around inside the Sun as it spins. There are places on the sun where this magnetic field rises up from below the sun's surface and pokes through, creating sunspots. Sunspots are magnetic and often have a north and south pole like a magnet. They come and go over the surface of the Sun and last from a few days to a few weeks. The period of time between maximum outbreaks of sunspots is about 9 to 14 years, with an average of 11 years. A link can be found below.