On Feb. 13th at 1738 UT, sunspot 1158 unleashed the strongest solar flare of the year so far, an M6.6-category blast. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded an intense flash of extreme ultraviolet radiation, circled below:
And then yesterday, June 7, the sun let loose what BadAstronomer termed a “ginormous” explosion.
A little less colorfully, BadAstronomer notes:
What you’re seeing here is a solar flare (an enormous explosion of pent-up magnetic energy) 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. Note the size of it, too: 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! I’d estimate its size at well over a million kilometers across. It looks like most of the material fell back down to the Sun’s surface; that’s common, though sometimes such an event manages to blast the material completely away into space. The above video shows the Sun in the ultraviolet (304 Angstroms for those playing at home, quite a bit bluer than what the eye can naturally see) and is colored orange to make it easy to see.