A spectacular new video of the sun captured by a NASA spacecraft puts you up close and personal with a fiery storm on our closest star — all in mind-boggling 4K resolution.
The video, taken by NASA's powerful Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), was recorded on April 17 as an active sunspot unleashed an intense solar flare. The heart-shaped sunspot AR 2529 fired off a moderate M6.7-class solar flare during the eruption. It appears in the video as a brilliant flash of light.
"Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation," NASA officials wrote in a video description. "Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however — when intense enough — they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel."
The April 17 solar flare triggered only brief radio blackouts, NASA officials said. The SDO spacecraft, which keeps constant watch on the sun, recorded video of the event in several wavelengths of extreme ultraviolet light, they added.
This isn't the first time NASA's SDO recorded an amazing view of the AR 2529 sunspot. Earlier in the month, the solar observatory tracked the active region as it made its way across the sun's face, recording stunning video of the superhot plasma flows in the sunspot.
At the time, the sunspot was large enough to swallow three Earths, mission scientists said.
"Sunspot regions are areas of intense magnetism so that plasma is being pulled along magnetic field lines between areas of opposite polarity," SDO mission scientists added in a video description.
NASA launched the SDO spacecraft in 2010 to keep a constant eye on the sun and track space weather. The spacecraft is one of a fleet of observatories in space that monitor the sun for solar flares and other space-weather events.
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Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at Space.com and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.