Watch the Sun "burp"

Check out this great NASA video showing a coronal mass ejection—a burst of plasma thrown off the surface of the Sun—from several different perspectives. It happened on August 31 and it's really gorgeous. It's also rather huge, as far as these things go. Luckily, it wasn't pointed directly at Earth. Coronal mass ejections can affect our planet's magnetic field. There's a risk of large ones screwing with everything from our electric grid to radio waves.

Read more about coronal mass ejections on Wikipedia


  1. Does anyone know where these cameras are located? Was this shot from earth, or our orbit or someplace closer to the sun?

    1. There’s some info on the “More info” tag: the shots are from the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), the Solar Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), and the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO), which are respectively in Earth orbit, at the Sun-Earth L1 point between the Earth and the Sun, and at the Sun-Earth L5 point trailing 60° behind the Earth in its orbit. L1 and L5 are Lagrange points which are complicated to explain, so I’ll let Wikipedia do it for me.

  2. This is nice. You can almost see the magnetic reconnection. At one point you see the plasma trapped in the magnetic field and then the switch is turned off.

  3. Interesting to note that the timescale of the actual eruption is measured not in seconds, as we experience it in the video, but in hours. NASA’s page says the movie was captured over almost 14 hours, “from noon EDT to 1:45 a.m. the next morning.”

  4. I’m sorry, but “coronal mass ejection” has always sounded to me like something that happens when you drink too much Mexican beer.

  5. Sometimes, I think about the fact that this impossibly huge thing, the entire thing, is fusing, and it just boggles my mind.

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