The ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory acquired this image on January 14, 2014. It shows a coronal mass ejection, or CME, erupting away from the sun, hurtling solar particles into space. The sun is obscured to make the dimmer solar atmosphere more visible. In the top right, you can see planet Venus.
Coronal mass ejections are powerful eruptions on the sun’s surface. Caused by instabilities in the sun’s magnetic field, they can launch a billion tons of superheated gas into space at over one million miles per hour. Here’s more: What is a coronal mass ejection or CME?
Eleanor Imster has helped write and edit EarthSky since 1995. She was an integral part of the award-winning EarthSky radio series almost since it began until it ended in 2013. Today, as Lead Editor at EarthSky.org, she helps present the science and nature stories and photos you enjoy. She also serves as one of the voices of EarthSky on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and G+. She and her husband live in Tennessee and have two grown sons.