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Video: Massive eruption from sun's surface

NASA | A Big Blast

Alaska Dispatch

As the days get longer in Alaska, the season for aurora viewing draws to a close. It's been an eventful winter, as the sun ramped up its activity in recent months and launched several gobs of charged particles in the direction of earth, making for some spectacular northern lights shows in January, February and March. 

But just because Alaskans' chances to witness the results of such solar pyrotechnics are diminishing, it doesn't mean that the sun is finished. In fact, activity will likely continue to be higher than usual, as the sun continues to reach peak activity levels in an 11-year cycle.

On Monday, April 16, NASA captured a huge eruption from the sun, accompanied by a solar flare and Coronal Mass Ejection (CME). Known as a prominence, such eruptions can extend many miles into space. Since this eruption was pointed away from Earth, the blast and accompanying mass ejection -- a cloud of charged particles often responsible for aurorae on Earth -- won't affect the home planet's atmosphere.

The sunspot continued to circle toward Earth though, with the potential for further eruptions, but the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center said Wednesday that the several eruptions pointing away from Earth may have put the sunspot region into a state of decay, making subsequent eruptions less likely.

Check out the video above to see the eruption in action, and follow other space weather activity at the Space Weather Prediction Center on Facebook.