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NASA video shows twisting solar eruption and flare

posted 11 Oct 2014, 07:13 by Mpelembe   [ updated 11 Oct 2014, 07:16 ]

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) captures stunning images of a solar flare which peaked on October 2nd. While intense flares can interfere with GPS and communications signals on Earth, this flare was M-class - just one-tenth as powerful as the biggest ones.

IN SPACE (NASA/SDO/WIESSINGER) -  NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) has recorded images of a mid-level solar flare, which peaked at 3.01pm EDT (1901GMT) on October 2.

The eruption of solar plasma came from an active region on the right side of the sun, according to NASA.

Of most concern to scientists is usually the size and direction of the coronal mass ejection (CME) that accompanies such flares. A coronal mass ejection can send billions of tonnes of solar particles into space. If directed towards Earth, that energy can affect electronic systems in satellites and on the ground, although in this case, scientists say the flare was classified as an M7.3 flare. M-class flares are one-tenth as powerful as the most powerful flares, which are designated X-class flares.

The instrument recording the images, the SDO, was launched by NASA on February 11, 2010. It is the most advanced spacecraft ever designed to study the Sun. Equipped with a group of four sophisticated telescopes called the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA), the SDO can observe and transmit highly detailed images of the Sun in different wavelengths.

The images coloured in teal are observations made in the 131 Angstrom wavelength, regarded as ideal for visualising material at the very hot temperatures of a solar flare.