NASA Spots Sparkling Holiday Lights Ejected from the Surface of the Sun

First Posted: Dec 23, 2014 12:10 PM EST

Don't just expect to see holiday lights here on Earth. The sun is also getting in on the action this year. Scientists spotted a significant solar flare that peaked at 7:28 EST on Dec. 19. Now, NASA has released a video of the solar flare.

The flare itself was caught by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which constantly monitors the sun. The SDO is particularly important when it comes to monitoring space weather, which can be impacted by solar flares.

Solar flares themselves are powerful bursts of radiation that can send billions of particles into space. However, harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere to harm humans on the ground. What it can do, though, is react with Earth's magnetosphere to supercharge the Northern Lights. It can also affect the atmosphere in the layer were GPS and communications signals travel which, in turn, can disrupt communications.

In this case, the sun produced a X1.8-class flare. X-class flares are the most intense flares, and the number provides its general strength within the X-class. For example, a X2-class flare is twice as intense as a X1-class flare. A X3-class flare, in contrast, is three times as intense-and so on.

To see exactly how the solar flare is shaping up and how it might affect Earth, you can visit NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center on their website.

Want to see more? Check out the video of the solar flare here.

For more great science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

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