Sun Eruption Massive: Watch Amazing Video Captured On New Year's Eve [VIDEO]
A towering eruption on the surface of the sun, which occurred on New Year's Eve, was so huge the ultra-hot plasma would be greater than 20 Earths, say NASA scientists.
The amazing solar eruption was caught on camera by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, a spacecraft that constantly tracks high-definition video of our star. The resulting video is mesmerizing.
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"Magnetic forces drove the flow of plasma, but without sufficient force to overcome the sun's gravity much of the plasma fell back into the sun," NASA officials wrote in an image description today (Jan. 4). "The length of the eruption extends about 160,000 miles [257,495 kilometers] out from the sun. With Earth about 7,900 miles [12,714 km] in diameter, this relatively minor eruption is about 20 times the diameter of our planet."
NASA officials were so captivated by Monday's sun eruption, which lasted for four hours, that they said it could be likened to a solar ballet.
The sun is now in an active phase of an 11-year solar activity cycle, which is expected to peak later this year. Nevertheless, NASA scientists believe the peak of the current cycle, known as Solar Cycle 24, will be the lowest of its kind in a century.
Solar Cycle 24 is the 24th solar cycle since 1755, when recording of solar sunspot activity started. The cycle began on January 8, 2008.
NASA scientists predict that the current cycle will peak in early or mid 2013 with around 59 sunspots.
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