SPLUUURT! A Huge Flare Explodes from the Sun

By Tom Yulsman | February 25, 2014 10:03 pm

Twisted magnetic fields on the Sun suddenly released on Monday, causing a massive flare of radiation that hurled a giant loop of plasma many times larger than the Earth out into space.

This x-class flare was observed by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory satellite. The video above shows SDO’s view in different wavelengths of light.

X-class solar flares are the biggest. This one was the strongest one yet observed this year, and one of the biggest during the current solar cycle.

Here are six still images showing the start of the event in different wavelengths:

Solar x-class flare

These images from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory at 7:25 p.m. EST on Feb. 24, 2014, show the first moments of an X-class flare in different wavelengths of light – seen as the bright spot that appears on the left limb of the sun. Hot solar material hovers above the active region in the sun’s atmosphere, the corona.
Credit: NASA/SDO

And here’s a closeup showing the sun in ultraviolet light at the time of the flare:

Solar X-class flare

The X-class solar flare erupted on the left side of the sun. This composite image, captured at 7:45 p.m. EST on Feb. 24, shows the sun in ultraviolet light with wavelengths of both 131 and 171 Angstroms. (Source: NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center)

Pretty impressive! And if the huge blast of material from the sun’s atmosphere, called a coronal mass ejection, that resulted from this event were to be heading our way, satellites, radio communications, and electrical grids would be at risk. Luckily, that’s not the case, according to NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center:

Although impressive, the source of this event is well off the Sun-Earth line and the coronal mass ejection (CME) associated with this event is not headed directly at Earth.  Analysis continues to determine what, if any, geomagnetic impact this will have.


CATEGORIZED UNDER: select, Solar System, Sun, Top Posts


ImaGeo is a visual blog focusing on the intersection of imagery, imagination and Earth. It focuses on spectacular visuals related to the science of our planet, with an emphasis (although not an exclusive one) on the unfolding Anthropocene Epoch.

About Tom Yulsman

Tom Yulsman is Director of the Center for Environmental Journalism and a Professor of Journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He also continues to work as a science and environmental journalist with more than 30 years of experience producing content for major publications. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Audubon, Climate Central, Columbia Journalism Review, Discover, Nieman Reports, and many other publications. He has held a variety of editorial positions over the years, including a stint as editor-in-chief of Earth magazine. Yulsman has written one book: Origins: the Quest for Our Cosmic Roots, published by the Institute of Physics in 2003.


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