The Sun lets loose a huge explosion

June 8, 2011 | Source: Discover Bad Astronomy

(Credit: NASA/SDO, animation made using Helioviewer)

On June 7, the Sun released a solar flare coupled with a prominence (a physical eruption of gas from the surface). This event blasted something like a billion tons of material away from the sun.

While it started from a small region on the Sun’s surface, it quickly expanded into a plume easily as big as the Sun itself — possibly over a million kilometers across.

This first video shows the event in ultraviolet (304 Angstroms) and is colored orange to make it easy to see (view at 1080p and full screen for full effect):

The second video from the Helioviewer is a close-up looking at even higher energy; it’s still UV but at 171 Angstroms: