Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 1:21 EDT

Our Amazing Sun: Before the Flare

July 18, 2012

The sun emitted a large flare on July 12, 2012, but earlier in the week it gave a demonstration of how gorgeous solar activity can be. This movie shows the sun from late July 8 to early July 10 shortly before it unleashed an X-class flare beginning at 12:11 PM EDT on July 12 as captured by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). The flare isn’t shown here, but the movie shows how the sun is constantly, and complexly, active. The region responsible for the flare, known as Active Region 1520, and sitting in the lower left part of the sun, crackles with giant loops of magnetized solar material that can help scientists understand how magnetic energy in the region creates these giant explosions. On the right side of the sun, the shimmering loops offer us the last vision of Active Region 1515 — which was also responsible for many solar flares — as it disappears out of view along with the sun’s rotation. The movie represents light in the 171 Angstrom wavelength, a wavelength of light that is particularly good at highlighting these magnetic loops.  credit:  NASA