On March 5 a large solar flare erupted from the Sun launching a coronal mass ejection (CME) into space (upper image) that is expected to reach the Earth today or tomorrow. (via ESA)
The bottom images were recorded the same day, before the solar flare, and they show:
an approximation of the Sun’s surface; the area with black spots surrounded by deep orange is a sunspot region, a place where magnetic energy is extremely intense but the surface is dimmer (and slightly cooler) in visible wavelengths [… and] the same area in extreme ultraviolet wavelengths (171 Angstroms); the sunspot region appears brighter in UV, radio, and other parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. Looping lines reveal solar plasma that is rising and falling along magnetic field lines in the solar atmosphere, or corona. (via EarthObservatory)
The Sun is approaching solar maximum (the period of greatest activity in the solar cycle) this year and the next, .