How Big Was This Massive Solar Flare?

April 16's M-class solar flare erupted with a CME that could dwarf the Earth, shown here to scale. (NASA/SDO/J. Major)

The M1.7-class flare that erupted from active region 1461 on Monday, April 16 let loose an enormous coronal mass ejection many, many times the size of Earth, making this particular writer very happy that our planet was safely tucked out of aim at the time… and 150 kilometres away.

The image above was obtained by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory’s AIA 304 imaging instrument last Monday during the height of the event. We’ve rotated the disc of the Sun 90 degrees to get a landscape look over the eastern limb, cropped it down and then added an Earth image to scale — just to show how fantastically huge our home star really is.

Some minor editing was done to increase contrast and heighten detail in the eruption. The CME was not directed our way, but it was aimed at NASA’s STEREO-B spacecraft, which will encounter the ejected material full-on.

 A beautiful prominence eruption producing a larger CME off the east limb (left side) of the sun on April 16, 2012 at about 17:45 UTC (1:45 pm EDT). The event, which also produced an M1.7-class solar flare, was not Earth-directed, say scientists from the Solar Dynamics Observatory. But SpaceWeather.com says the blast confirms suspicions that a significant active region roated onto the Earth-side of the sun. Sourced from: Universe Today


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