Watch this spectacular explosion on the sun

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured still and video footage of a coronal mass ejection exploding from the surface of the sun.

A NASA satellite charged with staring at the sun captured an incredible view of a powerful solar flare on Thursday (Oct. 2).

The space agency's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) caught sight of the flare as it erupted from an active region on the right side of the sun, according to NASA. The spacecraft' spectacular videos of the solar flare, as well as still images, show the sun storm erupting from the sunspot AR2172-AR2173. 

The flare reached its peak at 3:01 p.m. EDT (1901 GMT) on Tuesday. While the M7.3-class flare did cause a coronal mass ejection — an explosion of super-hot solar plasma — the eruption was not directed at Earth, and should not pose a concern for satellites in orbit or the planet as a whole, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Office. [See amazing pictures of 2014's solar flares]

M-class flares are about one-tenth as powerful as the strongest solar flares, which are known as X-class flares.

"Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground. However, when intense enough, they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel," NASA Goddard Space Flight Center spokeswoman Karen Fox wrote in a statement.

The sun has unleashed a series of X-class flares this year. In early September, the star fired off two large flares in rapid succession.

Those solar storms — which were pointed toward Earth — created some amazing aurora displays. Powerful solar tempests can supercharge Earth's auroras, causing curtains of green light to dance in the skies of the high northern and southern latitudes.

The northern lights are created when charged particles from the sun interact with Earth's upper atmosphere, bombarding neutral particles and creating the lights of the auroras.

Currently, the sun is at the peak of its 11-year solar cycle, called Solar Cycle 24. While the giant star has burst forth with some large flares during this peak, this solar cycle might still qualify as one of the calmest in close to 100 years, scientists have said.

NASA's SDO is part of a fleet of satellites that monitors the sun. The agency's twin STEREO probes and the SOHO spacecraft (a joint venture between NASA and the European Space Agency) also keep track of the sun's weather.

Follow Miriam Kramer @mirikramer and Google+. Follow us @SpacedotcomFacebook and Google+. Original article on

Copyright 2014, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Watch this spectacular explosion on the sun
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today