Sun lashes out solar flare in NASA image

8 May 2013

A burst of solar material leaps off the left side of the sun in what's known as a prominence eruption on 3 May. Image via NASA/SDO/AIA

NASA has released an incredible image of the sun whipping out what the US space agency describes as a ‘mid-level’ solar flare.

The image combines three images from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, taken on 3 May at 1.45pm EDT (6.45pm GMT).

The solar flare peaked at 1.32pm EDT (6.32pm GMT).

This flare is an M5.7-class flare, NASA said, the weakest flares that can still cause some space weather effects on Earth.

Solar flares, according to NASA, are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation can’t pass through the Earth’s atmosphere to physically affect humans, but flares can be strong enough to affect the layer of the atmosphere in which GPS and communications signals travel, NASA said. This interference can then disrupt telecommunications services.

Here’s a closer look at the solar flare that NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory snapped on 3 May:

Solar flare

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic