NASA released images and a video of a solar prominence, a giant arch of super-hot gases bursting off the sun's surface.
The prominence, shot yesterday from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory telescope, is associated with a solar flare, a brightening on the sun's surface that often occurs when a piece of the sun's atmosphere breaks off from the sun.
In this case, the medium-size solar flare was off the east side of the sun. It is not directed toward Earth. As such, it doesn't threaten to disrupt satellites or air travel, as other solar flares have.
The sun is entering a period of high activity, which means that the chances of a coronal mass ejection are higher. These bursts of high-energy matter and magnetic waves break off from the sun and, when directed toward Earth, can interact with the Earth's magnetic field.
That causes the auroras borealis at the poles and, if the conditions are right, could impact satellite communications, air travel, and the power grid.
The event shot by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory is still in progress.