A NASA spacecraft sees multiple explosions on the sun.
On June 10-11, 2014, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, spacecraft saw the sun unleash three giant solar flares within a period of 24 hours. Solar flares are bursts of radiation that originate in the sun’s atmosphere. They’re produced when magnetic energy stored in the atmosphere is suddenly released. In some cases, the amount of energy emitted is equivalent to the explosive force of millions of 100-megaton hydrogen bombs. Each solar flare observed by SDO was rated X-class, the strongest type of flare. Although solar flares of all sizes occur often, scientists say it’s unusual for multiple flares of this magnitude to erupt in so short a time. Watch the video to see images of the flares taken by SDO.