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Fig. 1

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a) MDI/SOHO magnetogram showing the photospheric magnetic configuration of NOAA 10720 on 17 January 2005 at 08:03 UT (the FoV is 420 × 420 arcsec, white (black) indicate positive (negative) polarity); b) photospheric image acquired at OACT on the same day at 09:00 UT, showing the photospheric configuration of the active region; the letters indicate the polarities of the main sunspots: n1, n2, n3, and n4 indicate the sunspots with negative polarity, while p1 and p2 indicate the main sunspots with positive polarity; c) OACT Hα image of the chromosphere acquired at 07:51 UT; the white arrows indicate the location of three filaments involved in the flaring process, while the white box indicates the field of view of the images shown in Fig. 3. In these and the subsequent images, north is at the top, west on the right.

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