Check Out Video of a Spectacular Solar Eruption

Erin McCarthy

On December 31, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) satellite captured this stunning solar eruption, which occurred over the course of four hours. According to NASA, "Magnetic forces drove the flow of plasma, but without sufficient force to overcome the sun’s gravity much of the plasma fell back into the sun."

SDO captured the video—shown at a high cadence of an image every 36 seconds—in extreme ultra violet light.

The satellite's main mission is to keep an eye on space weather, which is created by the sun. According to SDO's website, "Space Weather affects not only our lives here on Earth, but the Earth itself, and everything outside its atmosphere ... By better understanding the Sun and how it works, we will be able to better predict and better forecast the 'weather out in space' providing earlier warnings to protect our astronauts and satellites floating around out there."

SDO captures huge amounts of data daily—in fact, the data captured fills a CD (approximately 700 megabytes) every 36 seconds.