While people across the world were celebrating or preparing to celebrate the arrival of the year 2013, the sun was putting on a New Year’s show of its own.
On December 31, a massive solar eruption twisted up from the surface of the sun, propelled by swirling magnetic forces. The eruption extended around 160,000 miles out from the surface of the sun, or 20 times the diameter of the Earth. It lasted from 10:20 am to 2:20 pm EST.
Luckily for fans of space images, NASA‘s Solar Dynamic Observatory was not on holiday. The observatory caught the event in ultraviolet light. The video below shows the event from its explosive beginning to its serene finale, when wisps of plasma “gently” fell back to the sun’s surface. Every image in the video is 36 seconds apart.
(Image and video courtesy NASA/SDO/Steele Hill)