On August 31, 2012 the Sun unleashed a powerful coronal mass ejection, in which it released high-energy material from the corona into space at 900 miles per second. It was not aimed at Earth, luckily, but still gave aurora-watchers quite a light show.
NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the event, as seen above. Those are four different light filters that can detect different chemical composition, from long (the bluer filters) to short (the orange and yellow).
But disregarding all that technical stuff … holy cow this is an amazing picture. Support a cool space program and we can put cool spacecraft in orbit that will take cool pictures like this.
(via NASA, here’s a bigger version)
I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I repeat: Stars are awesome.