Strange Days On The Sun

  • Released Thursday, November 13th, 2014
  • Updated Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023 at 1:50PM

On October 18, 2014, a gigantic sunspot on the lower half of the sun rotated into view of NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, spacecraft. The sunspot measured 80,000 miles across—big enough to engulf at least a dozen Earths and larger than any seen in more than two decades. With temperatures around 7,000°F, sunspots are relatively cooler areas on the sun. In images taken at visible wavelengths they appear as dark spots on the sun’s surface, hence their name. Over the next 14 days, the massive sunspot unleashed multiple bursts of radiation known as solar flares. Some of these flares were classified as X-class, the strongest type of flare. The mightiest X-class flares (degree is indicated by number, with 1 being the lowest) are by far the largest explosions in the solar system and are awesome to watch. See views of different eruptions captured by SDO in the video.

An X3.1-class flare burst from the sun on Oct. 24, 2014, spewing light, energy and radiation out into space in all directions.

An X3.1-class flare burst from the sun on Oct. 24, 2014, spewing light, energy and radiation out into space in all directions.

An X1.0-class flare erupted on Oct. 25, 2014. NASA’s SDO uses the teal color to represent some of the hottest material on the sun.

An X1.0-class flare erupted on Oct. 25, 2014. NASA’s SDO uses the teal color to represent some of the hottest material on the sun.

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Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Images courtesy of NASA/SDO