In October of this year, a gargantuan sunspot—the largest observed in 24 years—made an appearance on the surface of the sun. Dubbed AR 2192, this sprawling active region was comparable to the diameter of Jupiter, spanning some 80,000 miles (128,747 kilometers). If lined up side by side, ten Earths could be laid across its diameter. Its staggering size meant that it could even be seen without a telescope.
The humongous active region generated some powerful explosions, including six X-class flares (the most intense type) and four M-class flares (a tenth as strong as X-class).
As this impressive event unraveled, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory was stalking the whole thing with its powerful imaging equipment, capturing stunning photos every 34 seconds as the sun bubbled away and spewed out material into space. Luckily for us, someone decided it would be a good idea to stitch these photos together into a truly awe-inspiring time-lapse.
The video’s creator was science blogger James Tyrwhitt-Drake, who used more than 17,000 images to produce this gem. The time-lapse condenses more than 16 days into less than eight minutes, and it is truly beautiful:
To give us an idea of the sheer size of the sunspot, he also zoomed in on the area and included an image of the Earth for scale:
[Via CNET, space.com and Huffington Post]