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The Sun Just Had a 79,000 Mile Explosion

Illustration for article titled The Sun Just Had a 79,000 Mile Explosion

You might have had a peaceful day here, but up above, some serious solar violence just went down: an ejection of scorching plasma just erupted from the Sun. Enough to burn its away across ten Earths.

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The eruption is what's known as a coronal mass ejection, or CME, when the Sun's magnetic fields force out an unfathomably large amount of unfathomably hot gas: "A large CME can contain a billion tons of matter that can be accelerated to several million miles per hour in a spectacular explosion. Solar material streams out through the interplanetary medium, impacting any planet or spacecraft in its path," explains NASA, who told us that this particular blast extended to the far reaches of our solar system.

But this mega-explosion didn't just reach far in one direction—ten earths is nothing. NASA's Karen Fox said the "height" of the CME (from our perspective) was "25 earth radii high"—198,000 miles. What you see above is the blast before it detached itself from the Sun, rolling outward and onward. Wear your sunscreen. [NASA]

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DISCUSSION

So seriously, what would the results have been if it was pointed at us? I mean it is very hard to get the concept of how big and FAST that explosion was.

This of the biggest and fastest explosion you ever saw. In real life i would say it is a Nuke. The videos of that you can see the cloud expanding rather slowly because of how big it was. It takes minutes for it to reach max size. This was seconds... like 3 of them. And it was big enough to take out a whole lot of earths.

So these billions of tons of matter going millions of miles per hour, what would happen to our atmosphere and the rest of the planet?!?!?!

I would love to hear what Niel Degrasse Tyson has to say about this.