A solar eruption gracefully rose up above the Sun, twisted and turned in a sinuous manner. Most of the plasma mass fell back into the Sun (Dec. 31, 2012). The four-hour event was taken in extreme ultraviolet light and is shown here at a high cadence of an image every 30 seconds. Magnetic forces were driving the flow of plasma, but without sufficient force to overcome the Sun's gravity. The overall level of solar activity remains lower than expected, since the Sun is presumably still heading towards its maximum activity level later this year.
This stillsolar eruption has an Earth superimposed on it to give a sense of the scale of these kind of events. The length of the eruption as shown extends about 160,000 miles out from the Sun. With Earth about 7900 miles in diameter, this relatively minor eruption is about 20 times the diameter of Earth.
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