A NASA spacecraft sees a spectacular explosion on the sun.
There’s never a dull moment when it comes to the sun. Images taken from space in wavelengths invisible to the human eye show material in its atmosphere is constantly on the move. On March 13, 2016, a round solar prominence burst from the sun shortly after rotating into view of NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, spacecraft. Prominences are clouds of solar material suspended above the sun's surface by the solar magnetic field. These massive structures are notoriously unstable and often break apart after a few days. When that happens, solar material streaming along magnetic field lines blasts out. The material either escapes into space or falls back to the solar surface, pulled by the sun’s gravity. Explosions directed toward Earth can affect orbiting spacecraft and disrupt power grids on the ground, so scientists keep an attentive watch on these types of events. Watch the video to see a time-lapse of the eruption.