NASA Records Video of Solar Flare
Every now and again, the sun comes down with a minor case of indigestion, and if we’re lucky, we get to watch. Recently, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) captured some incredible footage of our favorite life-giver belching and honestly, it’s oddly soothing.
These “burps” are actually known as solar flares, which are massive eruptions on the sun that spew energy, light, and particles out into space. According to the ESA, they are caused by a build up of energy stored in magnetic fields above sunspots, which are those dark patches we can see on the sun’s surface. Solar flares can produce radiation from across entire electromagnetic spectrum, from radio waves to gamma rays. In short, there’s a lot going on.
On October 18th, instruments from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) captured the sun having a little eruption that lasted roughly two hours. The picture’s good, but the video is divine — pair it with some Enya and a nice cabernet and you’re ready for a very relaxing 10 seconds!
According to Scott McIntosh, Director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research’s High Altitude Observatory (HAO), this outburst was likely a kind of solar flare known as a “filament” or “prominence” eruption.
“Prominences are typically cooler trapped material in the middle of solar active regions that form around the ‘magnetic inversion line’ that goes between the north and south polarizations of the magnetic field,” he tells Inverse. “Those then tend to get spewed out when the field erupts — kind of like a catapult or slingshot.”
All things considered, this solar flare is pretty small. On April 2, 2001, NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) satellite spotted the largest solar flare ever recorded — it sent particles flying into space at 4.5 million miles an hour (7.2 million kilometers per hour).
While solar flares can pose a real threat to our technology here on Earth, clearly, this one was too tiny to cause any damage. Some researchers suggest that a “superflare” could occur sometime in the next 100 years, potentially dismantling Earth’s power grids. For this reason, some have suggested sending a multi-billion-dollar system into space to protect Earth from a blast.
Who knows what nightmarish future the sun has in store. For now, enjoy this pleasant video of the sun having a burp.