The sun unleashed a massive solar storm today (June 7) in a dazzling eruption that kicked up a vast cloud of magnetic plasma that appeared to rain back down over half of the sun's entire surface, NASA scientists say.
The solar storm hit its peak at about 2:41 a.m. EDT (0641 GMT), but the actual flare extended over a three-hour period, said C. Alex Young, a solar astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center who runs a website called The Sun Today, in a video describing the event.
"The sun produced a quite spectacular prominence eruption that had a solar flare and high-energy particles associated with it, but I've just never seen material released like this before," Young said. "It looks like somebody just kicked a giant clod of dirt into the air and then it fell back down." [Video: See the sun's June 7 solar flare and eruption]