In December 2019, the Sun’s Solar Cycle 25 began, and it's been a lot more active than scientists predicted. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) has released a timelapse of this active cycle, including some of the most spectacular events that have taken place on the surface of the Sun.
Among the many observations from NOAA’s Solar Ultraviolet Imager (SUVI), there is one from late October 2021. In it, an X-class flare (the most energetic type) explodes across the Sun. So far it has been the most powerful of the cycle and it caused a major radio blackout. However, it does not compare to some of the ones that have happened in the past.
The images from SUVI give a better idea of the power of the event. Previous observations from the day showed the flash of light from the flare, but the NOAA image shows the aftershock expanding across the solar plasma. An absolutely enormous event.
Solar Cycle 25 might peak sooner than expected too, according to a new model challenging standard predictions, peaking in late 2024 instead of mid-2025. More extreme events are coming for sure. And there have already been so many incredible features on the Sun over the past few years: a peculiar polar vortex of plasma, sunspots so big that they are visible to the naked eye (but with solar glasses!), and a solar snake slithering across its surface.