The Sun has been completely manic this week

It's been a remarkable week of solar activity. Astronomers recorded several coronal mass ejections this week, including three that are currently hitting the Earth's magnetic field. An exquisite image of one of this week's many flares can be seen below.

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Above video: Unrelated to this week's solar events, NASA released a spectacular video of a "Canyon of Fire on the Sun." It shows a coronal mass ejection that sent a massive 200,000 mile long magnetic filament upwards from the surface of the Sun. The glowing canyon traces the channel where magnetic fields held the filament aloft prior to the explosion. It was taken over the course of two days, from September 29-30 by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory.

Earlier this week, three coronal mass ejections were observed leaving the Sun on an Earth-bound course. According to SpaceWeather, the waves will be hitting our planet's magnetic field today (October 25th). The combined impact of these CMEs could trigger a mild polar geomagnetic storm, resulting in spectacular auroras and some radio disruptions.

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Then, on Wednesday night, NASA detected a mid-level solar flare. The space agency classified it as an M9.4 flare (on a scale from M1 to M9.9), which puts it at the top of the scale for M class flares, the weakest flares that can cause some space weather effects near earth. Check out this incredible image of the event:

Illustration for article titled The Sun has been completely manic this week

And here's a video of the CME:

Two other recent flares have been recorded, but neither are expected to reach Earth.

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We're seeing an increased number of flares recently because the Sun is near its solar maximum.

Image: NASA/SDO.

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DISCUSSION

smorgasborg
Smorgasborg

Has anybody figured out what causes solar maximums and minimums? I've always been curious about them. The sun is such a freaking crazy thing to behold: a monstrous nuclear fireball with insane gravity and crazy magnetic fields that just so happens to sustain all life on this tiny little ball of rock.