The sun is nearing the height of its 11-year activity cycle
The sun is nearing the height of its 11-year activity cycle, so people watching the sun are going to see a lot more action. People actually watching the sun for too long will do damage to their eyesight, but the people at NASA, for example, can capture all the glory and share it with us.Though maybe they shouldn't share some of it since it's quite scary, a massive eruption on the surface of the sun was spotted at the end of last year and it's a big one, so big it could swallow 20 Earths.
Despite its size, it's not the biggest ever recorded. While spectacular and massive, the eruption and others like it pose no real threat to the sun.
In fact, as the plasma burst outwards, the powerful magnetic fields of the sun twisted the jet into the beautiful pattern you see but also pulled back most of the material which fell down back to the sun.
Some material did escape and if the eruption would have been aimed at Earth, it could have meant trouble. The eruption was captured by NASA's Sun Dynamics Observatory which is constantly keeping an eye on closest star neighbour.
Particularly during the height the 11-year cycle, solar flares like this can wreak havoc back on our planet as they interfere with satellite and ground communication as well as the power grid. Luckily, scientists estimate that this will be the lowest high point of activity for a century.