The sun rung in 2013 with a massive solar eruption

first_imgThe sun totally one-upped Earth-bound revelers on New Year’s Eve. No matter how big and exciting you thought the Times Square celebration was, the big yellow ball in the sky managed to pull off a bigger spectacle — one that lasted for four hours and reached a distance of 20 times the diameter of the Earth.According to NASA, there was a solar eruption that extended nearly 160,000 miles on December 31, 2012. For four hours, the event played out as a kind of solar ballet, with plasma gushing out of the sun and twirling around before eventually being sucked back in by the force of gravity.Even though it provided quite the show for NASA’s cameras, it didn’t cause any major issues. Solar flares and eruptions can sometimes interfere with satellites or other manmade objects floating about in outer space, but this recent event was declared “relatively minor,” mainly because the massive flow of plasma did not actually make its way out of the sun‘s orbit.In rare circumstances, it is actually possible for particles to make their way all the way to Earth. When that doesn’t happen, though, it’s just a good, harmless spectacle for space geeks.This most recent event is noteworthy because it may be one of the last of its kind for several years. NASA says that solar activity is currently at the peak of an 11-year cycle, and that either in 2013 or 2014 there will be a huge lull. Sunspot numbers are poised to be the lowest they have been in more than a century.This will come as a notable contrast to the relatively frequent solar activity that has occurred over the last several months. For instance, there was another solar eruption less than two months ago near the end of November. So bookmark the YouTube video above if you really like watching solar eruptions. It might be a while before you see another one this good.NASA via Latinos Postlast_img

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