'Canyon Of Fire' On The Sun: NASA Releases Awesome Footage Of 200,000-Mile-Long Solar Ejection [VIDEO]

By Josh Lieberman on October 25, 2013 6:48 PM EDT

canyon of fire
A "canyon of fire" appeared on the sun in late September following an eruption of magnetic filament. (Photo: NASA)

NASA has mashed up two days-worth of satellite data to create an incredible video of a "canyon of fire" which appeared on the sun last month. The video, embedded in all its glory below, shows a magnetic filament of solar material erupting from the sun and blasting through the sun's atmosphere, leaving behind the aforementioned canyon. The magnetic filament ejected from the sun was 200,000 miles long -- about eight times the circumference of the earth. (The sun, incidentally, has a circumference of 2,700,000 miles.)

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The canyon of fire video was taken between September 29-30 by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. The different colors in the images correspond to different temperatures and were captured in a variety of wavelengths. The red images show plasma with temperatures of 90,000 degrees fahrenheit, which is useful for studying how filaments as they form and then erupt. The yellow images are 1,000,000 degrees fahrenheit and help scientists see how the magnetic filament moves along the sun's magnetic field. The brown images, which are shown first in the video, are of plasma with an unthinkable temperature of 1,800,000 degrees fahrenheit and provides the best view of the canyon of fire.

As NASA pointed out, the sun isn't actually made of fire, "but of something called plasma: particles so hot that their electrons have boiled off, creating a charged gas that is interwoven with magnetic fields." To call it a "canyon of plasma," though, doesn't sound quite as catchy.

Coronal mass ejections like the one that left behind the canyon of fire are fairly common events; one happened just two days ago, and another one may have happened today. The solar phenomenon occurs solar wind bursts off of the sun, sending billions of tons -- that's right, billions of tons -- of particles into space. These particles have the potential to reach Earth about three days later, and though they can't hurt us, they can interfere with satellites and power grids. In Quebec, Canada, for instance, a 1989 power outage is believed to have been caused by solar storm.

Now that it's Friday, why don't you go and pour yourself an aurora borealis cocktail and repeatedly watch the amazing canyon of fire video.

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