NASA officials confirm that a giant solar eruption has occurred from our sun, one that many astronomers predicted in 2012, but surprised them at the last minute during New Year’s Eve.
The eruption was larger than 20 Earths put together and lasted about four hours, extending about 160,000 miles outward from the sun.
The blast did not have enough power to escape the sun’s gravity and was pulled back down to the surface of the sun, NASA officials said.
Our planet is about 7,900 miles in diameter, which means, the space agency said, the eruption was about 20 times the diameter of Earth.
“A solar eruption gracefully rose up from the sun on Dec. 31, 2012, twisting and turning. 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. The length of the eruption extends about 160,000 miles out from the Sun. With Earth about 7,900 miles in diameter, this relatively minor eruption is about 20 times the diameter of our planet,” NASA officials wrote in a statement.
“The sun has had sunspots every day in 2012. Solar max here we come!” SDO mission officials wrote in a Twitter post last week.
Astronomers say that sun is currently in an active phase that will peak later this year.
Minor solar storms can also trigger amazing geomagnetic storms above Earth that supercharge the planet’s aurora displays above its poles.