An intense solar storm erupted from the sun on Friday (May 3) in a dazzling space weather display captured by a NASA spacecraft.
The solar flare erupted from the edge the sun, with NASA’s powerful Solar Dynamics Observatory snapping photos of the sun storm. The flare peaked at 1:32 p.m. EDT (1732 GMT), registering as a relatively medium-strength M5.7-class event.
Friday’s solar storm was the second major space weather event in three days, but was not aimed at Earth. According to astronomer Phil Plait, who chronicled the flare on his Bad Astronomy blog, the solar storm launched super-hot solar plasma about 120,000 miles (200,000 kilometers) above the surface of the sun before it faded from view.
And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke (Acts 2:19 KJV).
Filaments are unstable strands of solar matter which rise above the sun with the fluctuations of its magnetic field. They are much colder than the surface of the sun, and are thus visible as darker areas when viewed against it. However, when seen from the side, like in the video, they look like snake-like bursts of flame, which sometimes loop back onto the sun.
This particular filament is unusually large, spanning millions of kilometers. The phenomenon was observable for a span of about six hours (the video has been sped up, but you can see the time stamp at the bottom). It did not erupt in the Earth’s direction and poses no danger to the planet or spacecraft in its orbit.
It was observed by both NASA and the European Space Agency, using their orbital Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) and Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). Soho offered the best view of the event through its two Large Angle Spectrometric Coronagraphs (LASCOs) and made it into the video. One coronograph took a closer look, filming the corona out to 8.4 kilometers. Its part is colored red in the NASA video. The other took a wider shot, with a 45-million kilometer pan, colored blue in the video.
The sun fired off a May Day solar eruption on Wednesday (May 1) from the same region, which is currently at the very leftmost edge (or limb) of the sun as seen by the Solar Dynamics Observatory. The active region will be rotating to face Earth soon, mission scientists said.
“Increased number of flares are quite common at the moment, as the sun’s normal 11-year activity cycle is ramping up toward solar maximum, which is expected in late 2013,” NASA officials said in a statement.
The strongest solar flare of the year occurred on April 11 and registered as an M6.5-class sun storm, still a mid-level event. Scientists classify solar flares based on their intensity. M-class solar flares are medium-strength events that are the weakest type of storm that can still have an impact on Earth. When aimed directly at Earth, they can super-charge the planet’s aurora displays.
The strongest type of solar flare are X-class sun storms. When aimed directly at Earth, X-class solar flares can pose a threat to spacecraft and astronauts in space. They can also interfere with communications and GPS navigation signals, and cause radio blackouts.
A radio short-lived radio blackout was caused by the Friday solar flare, but subsided quickly, NASA officials said.
The sun’s current solar weather cycle is known as Solar Cycle 24. The Solar Dynamics Observatory is one of several spacecraft constantly monitoring the sun to track its solar weather events.
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The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork – Psalm 19:1 (KJV).
He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names -Psalm 147:4 (KJV).
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made,even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse – Romans 1:20 (KJV).
Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name:- Amos 5:8 (KJV).
Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth – Isaiah 40:26 (KJV).
Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the stars. Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea. Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south. Which doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number – Job 9:9-10 (KJV).
There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. -1 Corinthians 15:41 (KJV).