A massive eruption on the sun occurred late on Jan. 22, 2012, causing the strongest radiation storm from the sun since 2005. The sun is, in essence, showering the Earth with high-powered solar particles traveling at about 5 million mph. Though those of us on the Earth’s surface aren’t affected, the eruption forced Delta Air Lines to redirect certain high-flying airplanes to prevent loss of radio communication and avoid exposing pilots and passengers to excessive radiation.
Shown above is a photo of the sun toward the end of the eruption — around 1:15 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 24. Below is a photo of the sun in the early hours of Monday, Jan. 23, 2012.
Photos courtesy of the NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory