On December 31st of 2012 while you were gazing up at burning gunpowder and bemoaning the loss of Zima, a much more spectacular light show was taking place at the center of our solar system.The picture on the right comes to us courtesy of NASA’s Image of the Day Gallery and shows off 2012’s New Year’s solar eruption.
Magnetic upheaval within the sun gave rise to this spectacular display as superheated plasma was spewed 160,000 miles into space. That’s roughly twenty times the diameter of Earth! The plasma launched by this “minor” (at least in terms of cosmic scale) eruption was dragged back onto the sun soon after, having been unable to overcome the giant fireball’s gravity. Crews of nearby spacecraft were not reported to have exclaimed “That’s a-spicy meatball!”