Categories: Solar Astronomysun

A Colossal Flare Erupted From the Far Side of the Sun

Earlier this week the Sun erupted with a huge explosion, blasting solar particles millions of kilometers into space. The team for the ESA/NASA Solar Orbiter spacecraft says the blast is the largest solar prominence eruption ever observed in a single image together with the full solar disc.

Luckily for us here on Earth, the eruption on February 15, 2022 occurred on the farside of the Sun, the side facing away from our planet. But ESA and NASA predict geomagnetic storms are possible in the next few days as the active region on the Sun responsible for the blast turns toward us.

The event was captured by several spacecraft, including Solar Orbiter and STEREO A.

A solar prominence consists of red-glowing loops of plasma, structured by tangled magnetic field lines generated by the Sun’s internal dynamo. An erupting prominence occurs when such a structure becomes unstable and bursts outward, releasing the plasma. They are often associated with outbursts of charged particles called coronal mass ejections (CMEs), which if directed towards Earth, can wreak havoc with our space-based technology.

Evidence of that came last week when SpaceX lost up to 40 of their recently launched 49 Starlink internet satellites after several CMEs erupted. The solar particles affected Earth’s atmosphere — ‘puffing’ it up, so to speak — making it difficult for the satellites to maintain their orbits. In a statement on February 8, SpaceX said “the escalation speed and severity of the storm caused atmospheric drag to increase up to 50 percent higher than during previous launches.”

The Sun has definitely increased in activity the past few months, and this latest event on February 15 zapped two “sungrazer’ comets that came close to the Sun.

Other space missions were also able to observe the event, including the SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) spacecraft. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of Solar Orbiter and SOHO’s view: is always a good source for finding updates on solar activity and any alerts of impending events.

This video from NASA Goddard is a good explainer of solar events and activity.

Nancy Atkinson

Nancy has been with Universe Today since 2004, and has published over 6,000 articles on space exploration, astronomy, science and technology. She is the author of two books: "Eight Years to the Moon: the History of the Apollo Missions," (2019) which shares the stories of 60 engineers and scientists who worked behind the scenes to make landing on the Moon possible; and "Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos" (2016) tells the stories of those who work on NASA's robotic missions to explore the Solar System and beyond. Follow Nancy on Twitter at and and Instagram at and

Recent Posts

It’s Been 10 Years Since Curiosity Landed on Mars, and the Rover is Still Going Strong

For a spacecraft that's traveled millions of kilometers across space and driven on the surface…

2 hours ago

South Korea’s First Orbital Mission to the Moon is on its Way

South Korea launched its first robotic mission to the Moon last week, as a SpaceX…

11 hours ago

Astronomers List 88 Distant Galaxies They Want to Look at With JWST. Some Are Less Than 200 Million Years Old.

Way back in the earliest ages of the universe, the first galaxies were born. Astronomers…

23 hours ago

With Martian air, Dirt, and Sunshine, It Should be Possible to Make Iron on Mars

When the first humans reach Mars, they'll probably live in habitats that were there ahead…

1 day ago

A Remote Surgical Robot is Going to the International Space Station

The Miniaturized In-vivo Robotic Assistant (MIRA) is getting ready to fly to the ISS and…

1 day ago

Hubble can Still Impress and Inspire. Here's Globular Star Cluster NGC 6638

Wow, what a beauty! While we’ve all turned our attentions to the new James Webb…

1 day ago