Spotted: Solar flare more than seven times the size of Earth

IRIS is NASA's newest toy for studying the sun. It just observed its first solar eruption, and it was a doozy.

flare.png
This is why no one vacations on Mercury. Video screenshot by Eric Mack/CNET

NASA's newest sun-spying satellite caught its first solar eruption earlier this month, and it was a big one.

The coronal mass ejection (CME) observed by the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, which launched last June, in the video below was the size of several Earths. According to NASA, the field of view is about five Earths wide and over seven Earths tall -- the size of the solar flare easily exceeds the field of view.

These are the kinds of moments of solar turmoil that have kept Mercury's tourism industry from ever really taking off. The Earth, however, remained safe from this massive flare orbiting at more than 92 million miles away from the sun.

Catching the below CME was actually a rather impressive stroke of luck as astronomers have to determine where they will point IRIS at least a day in advance; it just happened to be aimed at the right spot to catch this big blast.

Watch the whole thing below and try not to wish we had the means to construct a planet-sized marshmallow to roast on this sucker.

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Don't Miss
Hot Products
Trending on CNET

HOT ON CNET

Find Your Tech Type

Take our tech personality quiz and enter for a chance to win* high-tech specs!