The August solar eruption, in HD video!

By Phil Plait | September 28, 2012 6:56 am

In August, the Sun erupted in an epic explosion: a towering arc of material blasted off the surface and into space. The images of it were incredible enough, but the folks at NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center put together an astonishing high-def video of the eruption as seen by the Solar Dynamics Observatory, the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (or STEREO), and the Solar Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO):

Yowza. Set it to hi-res and make it full screen. Try not to drool.

They have more images, videos, and higher-resolution stuff on the GSFC Multimedia site. You really want to go there and take a look.

Our Sun is gorgeous, and dangerous, and amazing. These pictures and videos are more than just beautiful; they are telling us about the mechanisms and processes occurring both on the surface and inside our nearest star. Given the impact this can have on Earth, the more we know, the better.


Related Posts:

- A HUGE solar filament erupts into space
- Talk Nerdy To Me: Solar Storms
- The Sun blasts out a flare and a huge filament
- GORGEOUS solar eruption!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Pretty pictures

Comments (17)

  1. noen

    So how much energy did that flare release?

  2. kevbo

    Youch. I’ve had a couple bad enchiladas in my day, but that was huge.

  3. Wzrd1

    @noen, can’t find any energy estimates, but it DID give the Earth’s magnetosphere a glancing blow that triggered aurora on 3-September.
    A full halo of one like that might have gotten a bit expensive.

  4. artbot

    That was extremely awesome. I wish they would include a view with the Earth superimposed for scale (while noting, of course, that its distance to the sun is NOT to scale)

  5. Dennis J

    Looks too good to be true. Come on this is a simulation. What times we live in to be able to make that statment. I am drooling and got the keyboard all sticky. THANKS.

  6. Russell

    SPOOKEY!

    The sun has been doing this for billions of years and it hasn’t blown it’s self out yet? Wow.
    We haven’t been burnt to a crisp yet either! Thank you magnetosphere …Wow.

  7. kiljoy616

    That is one incredible and scary burst. I guess the earth next to that is a small pebble in the video if it was there and I would be smaller than a pixel on the screen.

  8. Matt B.

    Considering it would take something like 45-65 days (can’t remember the exact figure) for an object to fall into the sun from Earth’s distance, yet the CME got here in 4 days, it seems pretty safe to say that some of this material achieved escape velocity. Good to know.

    I’m curious, how light would a solid object have to be to float high enough in the sun to get carried away with the CME? The sun’s average density is 1406 kg/m^3, but naturally I expect surface density to be less than that.

  9. noen

    Larry Niven has a great short story I think you can read on the internet called “Inconstant Moon”. It’s a first person narrative where the narrator notices that the moon is really really really bright. The reason why it’s so bright turns out to be very bad news for everyone.

  10. Superluminous clip there. Jaw dropping. 8)

    Our Sun is gorgeous, and dangerous, and amazing.

    Add to that, kinda necessary for life here on Earth at least our variety of it and most of our planet’s ecosystems barring underground and abyssal oceanic floor ones. ;-)

    Plus despite what you may read our Sun is *far* from an average star. Its actually in about the top five percent of stars for brightness, size and mass.

    (Average stars are red dwarfs like Proxima Centauri , Lalande 21185 & Wolf 359 & not a single one is bright enough to be observed from here unaided eye. The superluminous celestial beacons that populate our night sky are super-rare but visible across such huger gulfs through their extreme radiance and girths.)

    @9. noen : Yup. Awesome short story and more, incl. anthology title and TV episode. :-)
    (See wiki-link in my name here for source.)

  11. I tremble when I realize the scale.

  12. Mario John

    Can’t tell you how many times I’ve hit replay on this one. The sheer power and magnificence of our Sun, especially when viewed with modern instruments, is humbling. GFSC Multimedia site is worth the trip too.

  13. Jon Hanford

    “I guess the earth next to that is a small pebble in the video if it was there and I would be smaller than a pixel on the screen.”

    Here’s an image with the Earth to scale:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/gsfc/7936905134/in/set-72157631408160534/lightbox/

  14. @ Noen: Larry Niven has a great short story I think you can read on the internet called “Inconstant Moon”. It’s a first person narrative where the narrator notices that the moon is really really really bright. The reason why it’s so bright turns out to be very bad news for everyone.

    One of my favs :D Thankfully, not something that can ever happen, as far as we can tell (that is, a sudden flare, not the whole main sequence evolution into a red giant). That whole collection is all kinds of awesome. “Bordered in Black” is particularly chilling :)

  15. Please correct me if I’m wrong: We’re basically looking at perturbations in the Sun’s magnetic field.
    Do these perturbations propagate at the speed of light (in that medium)?
    That is, are we actually seeing changes in the solar magnetosphere travelling at the speed of light? I hope that’s right, because it blows my mind away.

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