Space agency NASA’s newest solar observatory has captured a colossal coronal mass ejection erupting from the Sun in extraordinary detail.
According to the space agency, during the time of the ejection observed on May 9, a curtain of solar material erupted outwards at speeds of 1.5 million miles per hour.
This was the first CME observed by the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, which launched in June 2013 to peer into the lowest levels of the sun's atmosphere with better resolution than ever before.
NASA explained the imagery as follows: The IRIS imagery focuses in on material of 30,000 kelvins at the base, or foot points, of the CME. The line moving across the middle of the movie is the entrance slit for IRIS's spectrograph, an instrument that can split light into its many wavelengths – a technique that ultimately allows scientists to measure temperature, velocity and density of the solar material behind the slit.
The field of view for this imagery is about five Earths wide and about seven-and-a-half Earths tall.
"We focus in on active regions to try to see a flare or a CME," said Bart De Pontieu, the IRIS science lead at Lockheed Martin Solar & Astrophysics Laboratory in Palo Alto, California.
"And then we wait and hope that we'll catch something. This is the first clear CME for IRIS so the team is very excited," he further added.
Watch the movie to see how a curtain of solar material erupts outward at speeds of 1.5 million miles per hour.
— NASA (@NASA) May 31, 2014