Check out this stunning image of a recent solar flare from NASA Goddard:
On August 31, 2012 a long filament of solar material that had been hovering in the sun's atmosphere, the corona, erupted out into space at 4:36 p.m. EDT. The coronal mass ejection, or CME, traveled at over 900 miles per second. The CME did not travel directly toward Earth, but did connect with Earth's magnetic environment, or magnetosphere, causing aurora to appear on the night of Monday, September 3.
The image above includes an image of Earth to show the size of the CME compared to the size of Earth.
An incredible full sun image, AFTER THE JUMP...