The Sun sure has been acting up lately. Early this morning it let loose with yet another in a veritable string of flares — gargantuan explosions of radiation and solar material — many of them pointed toward Earth.
Solar material blasted into space by today’s flare is expected to reach Earth at about 1 p.m. EDT this coming Saturday, according to the Space Weather Prediction Center. But it’s not predicted to trigger anything like the spectacular displays of the auroral borealis that occurred this past Monday (June 22) and into Tuesday.
More about those displays in a minute, but first, check out the image above of today’s flare, captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft. Also, have a look at this pair of images of the solar material — called a coronal mass ejection, or CME — thrown off by the flare:
The LASCO instrument on the SOHO spacecraft used an “occulting disk” to completely block the extremely bright face of the Sun, allowing the instrument to image the fainter atmosphere (the “corona”). The result is these two images, taken 45 minutes apart, showing a massive amount of solar material being thrown outward into space from the corona.