Look What Our Sun Threw Up

A magnificent flare, with a magnitude of 6.7. Plus, see our favorite Sun pics ever


On the evening of April 17, the Solar Dynamics Observatory observed the solar dynamic above, and captured rather beautiful false-color 4K video of it.

Solar flares are caused–in some way–by magnetic disturbances in the sun, and can interfere with electromagnetic transmissions here on Earth, like the one you’re probably watching the video on right now.

Next, look at a gallery of our all-time favorite pictures of our favorite star, compiled by Josh Hrala, and, photographed by the Solar Dynamics Observatory, which has been snapping detailed pictures of the Sun since its launch in 2010.

Active Sun in 3D

If you have a pair of 3D glasses lying around, strap them on! This image, which was taken by the SDO on December 4, 2011, shows the Sun’s most active areas in 3D. To make it, researchers snapped multiple photos at different times to catch sunspots as they form. Then, the used common 3D techniques to allow for a very unique experience.

Substantial Coronal Hole

On January 29, 2014, the SDO captured this image of the Sun, which shows off a large ‘coronal hole,’ an area where the Sun’s magnetic field is open and emitting solar winds. According to the team, the hole’s widest point wraps almost half way around the star, a distance that could hold roughly 50 Earths.

Circular CME

This image comes from a video captured by the SDO on May 1, 2013. The large, circular bit coming off the Sun’s surface is known as a corona mass ejection (CME). This massive wave of particles travels over a million miles per hour and carries over a billion tons of particles.

The Sun’s Layers

These four, stitched-together images show off the Sun’s layers starting with the photosphere, which burns at roughly 6,000 degrees Celsius. From there, the images progress inward to the Sun’s other layers such as its chromosphere where temperatures spike to upwards of one million degrees Celsius. The final image on the right shows an illustration of the Sun’s magnetic field lines. All of these images, besides the illustration, were captured together on December 7, 2011.

Three Rotations

Captured over the course of three months, this image shows, via different wavelengths, how the Sun’s temperature shifts. The brightest areas of the image are the ones filled with the most magnetic fields. Basically, this shows the Sun’s most active zones in a single image by focusing on different wavelengths of light (red, green and blue) that all correspond to different temperatures with red being the highest at two million degrees and blue the lowest at 600,000 degrees.

SDO Solar Eclipse

While solar eclipses are fun to see even on Earth’s surface, this unique image was taken as the Moon traveled in front of the SDO. The image combines two wavelengths of ultraviolet light and is the combination of multiple frames. It also represents the longest ‘lunar transit’ between the SDO and the Sun, which lasted about two and a half hours.

Dancing on a Star

Dubbed ‘Dancing on a Star,’ this unique picture captures two areas of dark plasma entwining around each other on March 27, 2012. The ‘dance’ was captured in video form by the SDO, which took a picture every three minutes for a total of 450 frames. Since the plasma is a bit cooler than the rest of the Sun’s surface, they look like dark figures skittering on the horizon.

Two X Flares

Dubbed, for obvious reasons, X-flares, the extremely bright blue activity pictured here occurred on June 10, 2014. According to the researchers, these X flares, which consist of plasma, can spike up to 10 million degrees K.

Active Regions

On April 11, 2015, the SDO captured this image using extreme ultraviolet light. It shows how the Sun’s most active regions follow magnetic field lines. These areas are typically where solar storms flare to life. They even sort of look like our Earthly tropical storms.

Active Regions Galore

Like the previous image, this one, captured between May 14 and 18, 2015, shows even more active regions spread across the solar surface. To capture it, the SDO focused on an extreme ultraviolet wavelength that makes the image dark red instead of yellow. Unlike other images of the Sun’s activity, this one allows us to see it across the whole surface. In video form, it shows how the Sun looks like a churning ball of fire.

Solar Eclipse

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) captured a solar eclipse.