While the recent NASA-related news on Earth may be about the Shuttle Discovery taking its final flight, piggybacking a 747, to its final resting place where it will become a museum piece, another big event happened in outer space. Sure things are always happening in different regions of outer space — whether they catch the public’s attention or not — but in this case it happened on the Sun, our closest star, and photos from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) have the proof.
According to Gizmodo, the Sun just had an explosion on April 16, visible from its surface, spanning 79,000 miles. This explosion, known as a coronal mass ejection (CME), is when a huge amount of gas is thrusted outwards by the Sun’s magnetic fields. “A large CME can contain a billion tons of matter that can be accelerated to several million miles per hour in a spectacular explosion,” says NASA.
It took a really expensive gadget on a satellite to obtain the photo of the CME, which looks like something out of a sci-fi special effects film — however, it’s the real deal. You can check out the explosion in action in a video in NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Flickr gallery.