We've got some incredible photo and video for you here, so pay attention — you don't want to miss any of this.
Up top you'll find some downright gorgeous footage of a coronal mass ejection (a roiling whip of plasma, hurled from an active region on the Sun). It was shot by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory during an intense solar storm on August 31.
Down below we've featured a series of still images from the explosion, and first up is one that should help you put the size of this eruption into perspective.
This "long filament of solar material," as NASA calls it, was spotted tearing away from the Sun at upwards of 900 miles per second. Yes, per second; this CME, as is typical of super-hot plasma filaments that are flung from the sun, was hauling serious ass. It was also freaking enormous — plenty big enough to wrap itself around the Earth a few times — not to mention a few other planets — and still have some plasma left over:
Oh, Earth. Sorry to break it to you, buddy, but you would totally lose in this fight.
"It is hard to easily judge the size of this 3D event with a 2D image at this angle, but this filament is probably on the order of 30 Earths across, 300,000 kilometers or 186,000 miles," explained C. Alex Young, a solar physicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. "When the filament expanded into space it quickly became more extended leaving the sun as a CME many solar diameters across, many millions of kilometers or miles."
Next up, some views of the filament at 335- (depicted here in blue), 171- (yellow), 304- (red) and 131-angstrom (teal) wavelengths:
And again, in a composite of 304 and 171 angstroms :
Finally, a stunning wide shot of the entire Sun, its simmering filament frozen at full extension: