The Sun has been very active in the last week. NASA scientists say our star flared up producing five major eruptions in two days that generated spectacular northern lights displays over the weekend.
NASA scientists say the solar flares which burst from nearly all areas of the Sun occurred between February 23 and 24, and came from "top, bottom, left and right sides of the solar disk."
According to NASA, four of the five flares occurred within a time-span of 24 hours.
NASA reports that one of the eruptions was a "large snaking" magnetic filament that erupted on February 24 and triggered a first of two coronal mass ejections (CMEs) in the direction of the Earth. According to NASA, scientists at the Goddard Space Weather Lab predicted from analysis conducted that the CME cloud would strike the Earth's magnetic field on February 26, 2012 at about 8:30am EST (+/- 7 hr).
NASA: "The Sun produced five eruptions over a two day period. The fourth eruption hurls white hot material (circular inset) high into the solar corona."
A coronal mass ejection (CME) is a massive burst of solar wind, light isotope plasma, and magnetic fields rising above the solar corona, and may be released into space. They are often associated with solar flares. Most ejections arise from active regions on Sun's surface, especially areas of concentration of sunspots.
Solar flare (Feb. 23-24, 2012)
Space.com reports scientists are paying close attention to the flare events on the Sun because Sun flares can generate geomagnetic storms (such as CMEs) that can disrupt satellite orbits and interfere with electronic communications systems.
One of the side effects of these storms are spectacular aurora displays.
Red and green Auroras, Norway.
According to NASA , the filament eruption shown in the video (see video above) was taken by the Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO) in extreme ultraviolet wavelength. It forms a visible split in the Sun's atmosphere where plasma races away in waves in opposite directions.
According to NASA, solar filaments are: "Darker, cooler solar material floating above the sun's surface, suspended by magnetic forces. When they appear over the solar limb they are called prominences."