This isn't the opening shot of a new "Star Trek" film. You're looking at the surface of the sun. The actual sun. And that's an explosion. (Via NASA)
Nothing major, of course. But take another look.
This is a mass of plasma, hovering and twisting over the course of a day until it erupts into space. (Via NASA)
NASA explains, "The suspended plasma is being pulled and stretched by competing magnetic forces until something triggers the breakaway."
Note, NASA says this twisted plasma isn't a solar flare.
A NASA spokeswoman tells USA Today it's "material on the sun, doing what it always does, dancing and twisting — and in this case erupting off the side of the sun."
That is to say, this scene is pretty common. But it wasn't until four years ago — when the Solar Dynamics Observatory began operations — that we were able to get this front-row seat. (Via NASA)
You might remember last month when we saw a similar "graceful eruption." However, that was labeled as a solar flare. (Via NASA)
After that video was released, the Los Angeles Times noted: "While the imagery in the video can be beautiful, such information from [SDO] also helps scientists to understand the movements on the sun's surface that lead to these dramatic, sometimes violent outbursts."
Let's just hope whatever might flare up next month looks just as cool but remains non-violent.