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

Webb NIRISS Instrument has Gone Offline

The JWST is having a problem. One of its instruments, the Near Infrared Imager and…

10 hours ago

Lucy Adds Another Asteroid to its Flyby List

In October 2021, NASA launched its ambitious Lucy mission. Its targets are asteroids, two in…

11 hours ago

Astronomers Pin Down the Age of the Most Distant Galaxy: Seen 367 Million Years After the Big Bang

Staring off into the ancient past with a $10 billion space telescope, hoping to find…

14 hours ago

Perseverance Takes a Selfie to Show off Some of its Samples

One of the main jobs for the Perseverance Mars rover past few weeks has been…

15 hours ago

There's a Crater on Mars That Looks Like a Bear

Facial pareidolia is the human tendency or illusion of seeing facial structures in an everyday…

17 hours ago

According to Simulations, the Milky Way is One in a Million

Humanity is in a back-and-forth relationship with nature. First, we thought we were at the…

2 days ago