(Long) Picture of the Day: Protons Dance on a Solar Sensor

This little film, taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory, at first looks like a relic of the early film era. Those little lines around the edge of the sun — those are scratches, right?

Wrong. Those are protons moving at half the speed of light.

On June 19, 2012, the sun let loose an “M7-class flare” that almost entered “X-territory” (the largest territory). Matching that flare was a coronal mass ejection on the orb’s other side. The protons dancing across the film are the result of both emissions.

Below, recent Pictures of the Day:


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Robinson Meyer is an associate editor at The Atlantic, where he covers technology.

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