Watch This Mesmerizing GIF of a Solar Flare
Don't worry, it's not dangerous.
NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory surpassed itself Sunday with this fantastic image of a mid-level solar flare taken around 8:30 p.m.
It looks a bit like the eye of Sauron, but less mad. On the right-hand side of the image you can also see what NASA calls “a loop of solar material,” which is exactly what it sounds like.
Solar flares are regularly occurring phenomena in which light and radiation erupt out from the sun and into space. They don’t pose any danger to any of us down here on Earth. This particular flare is classified as an M6.7, meaning it’s a fairly regular mid-level phenomenon. For context, explains NASA, “M-class flares are a tenth the size of the most intense flares, the X-class flares. The number provides more information about its strength. An M2 is twice as intense as an M1, an M3 is three times as intense, etc.”
This flare comes from the area in the black spot on the image below. Per NASA, the black spot — known as a sunspot — indicates a region of “complex magnetic activity.” Do not underestimate it due to its comparative tininess to the Sun, because apparently almost five Earths can fit inside that thing.