Solar burp

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Our sun let out a mid-level solar flare yesterday, and NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured images of it in multiple wavelengths of extreme ultraviolet light.

The flare peaked at 6:34pm EDT on March 12th. As a mid-level flare, it's an M9.3, just short of the more intense X-class naming scheme. This is breaking news (oooh!), so TBA if it was accompanied by a coronal mass ejection or not. The composite image of all the wavelengths layered together is also gorgeous:


As with all Solar Dynamics Observatory images, different wavelengths are colour-coded to explore different aspects of our sun:

  • Red is coded to the highest wavelength in this set, at 304Å. It's also the coolest temperature for this particular — only 50,000 Kelvin (or 497,26 Celsius if you insist on common temperature scales). This corresponds to the transition region and chromosphere of the sun, with ionized helium putting on a show.
  • Gold is reserved for the 171Å. At around 600,000 Kelvin, light is emitted by ionized iron-9. It's generally the upper transition region, a fairly quiet corona with not much activity most days.
  • Teal continues up the heating scale to the hottest temperatures recorded by the Solar Dynamics Observatory at 10,000,000 Kelvin. That's the ionization temperature for iron-20 and iron-23, and a perfect way to monitor those hot, hot solar flares.

Image credits to NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. Learn more about the different wavelengths used in these images, or check out what the sun looks like right now.