Flare Out

M3-class flare lashes out on February 24, 2011

Today at 7:35 UT, hours before the final Discovery shuttle launch, the Sun had a launch of its own: an M3-class solar flare spewed a giant plume of material hundreds of thousands of miles into space. Luckily this ejection was not facing Earth at the time, but the active region responsible is gradually rotating into view from the Sun’s western limb.

The animation above shows the coronal mass ejection associated with the flare, made from eight images taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory using its AIA 304 imaging camera.

It can’t be said for sure whether or not this active region will produce more Earth-directed flares once it rotates our way, but we sill find out for sure within the next week!

See more information about the Sun’s current state on SpaceWeather.com. And for a super-crazy close-up of this flare, check out SDO’s Pick of the Week here!

Credit: Courtesy of NASA/SDO and the AIA, EVE, and HMI science teams. Animation by J. Major.

Read on LightsInTheDark.com


  1. John says:

    The clarity in the moving images is stunning.


  2. Fantastic image, I think it is really amazing looking at the solar system and finding a way to understand it.


  3. Helen says:

    The sun is one of those planets which truly fascinates me, just the colours of the planet and knowing that it was once a star but it is coming to the end of its life span. Without the sun planet earth would not exist, the whole universe is truly amazing.


    1. J. Major says:

      Helen: the Sun is still very much a star! It may be middle-aged, but it still has an estimated 5 billion years of life left in it. It should be just fine for the foreseeable future!


  4. sara says:

    I love the sun and all the planets which surround it, there has been a star burst surrounding the planets in the last week, which was only visible on a clear night. I saw it but it was quite faint.


  5. julia says:

    I think that the whole idea that we are a world floating in space is amazing, I read the other day that some scientists still believe that the world is flat….. mad really, i think that the sun is mesmerizing though, especially when you see photo’s like the one above.


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