Magnetic fields in active regions can be 1,000 or more times stronger than the average magnetic field of the Sun. Sunspots are visual indicators of active regions, although not all active regions produce sunspots. Sunspots are usually surrounded by lighter-shaded areas of mild magnetic disturbance called faculae (singular: facula). Some less intense active regions show up as just faculae without sunspots.
Active regions are most common during the peak of the sunspot cycle when the Sun's magnetic field is highly disturbed. Active regions appear bright in X-ray and ultraviolet images of the Sun. The powerful magnetic fields around active regions release intense bursts of energy, which often take the form of high-energy X-ray and UV photons. Many types of dramatic solar features, including solar prominences and coronal loops, frequently appear around active regions.