NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory just released some stunning images of a recent solar flare.

A solar flare, like the one seen above, occurs when the sun releases built up magnetic energy that heats up and accelerates surrounding particles which are then visible as light — vivid, awe-inspiring light.

The staggering amount of energy fueling this light show is greater than millions of hydrogen bombs exploding at once, and 10 million times greater than the power of a volcano (yet is less than one-tenth of the total energy emitted by the sun every second).

The solar flare seen in the video above came from an active region of the sun, with a strong magnetic field.

A large black spot — think so large that it could fit five Earths inside of it — marked this region several days before the solar flare. Even still, NASA classified this particular flare as merely mid-level, and NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center reported that it only caused “moderate radio blackouts.”

More intense flares, however, have been known to disturb GPS and other communications signals because their radiation warps the atmosphere, which we depend on to reflect radio waves.

Although the radiation from a solar flare can disrupt communications devices, it is thankfully not strong enough to physically affect humans on Earth. We simply get to enjoy the show.


Next, watch another incredible NASA video of the sun. Then, check out photos of the tarantula nebula.

Elisabeth Sherman
Elisabeth Sherman is a writer living in Jersey City, New Jersey.
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