I just saw this image in this article in Phys.org, which is generally a great source of physics news. Normally I would expect them to post real images, or if they use artist's conceptions, they would flag them as such, but this is just "blowing me away" so to speak.

The caption, including credit:

"Our sun burps, on August 31, 2012, flinging material into space as part of a coronal mass ejection. Credit: Flickr/NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre, CC BY"

Is this a real image? If so, what satellite took the image?

enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Here is a video that image was taken from: youtube.com/watch?v=kDvMs-UoI3o $\endgroup$
    – Rabbit Guy
    Mar 18, 2016 at 15:41
  • $\begingroup$ @blahfunk the credit says that the image was taken from Flickr/NASA, not from YouTube. I don't know what is scarier, the CME, or that slow creeping font effect between 0:12 and 0:22. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Mar 18, 2016 at 16:12
  • $\begingroup$ Don't want to start a discussion here @HopDavid but have gone on record previously. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Mar 29, 2016 at 23:58

2 Answers 2


You can find the image on Flickr.

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.

Pictured here is a lighten blended version of the 304 and 171 angstrom wavelengths. Cropped

The picture was taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory.

So, it's a real picture, but taken at UV wavelengths that has been processed to get a visible-light image.

  • $\begingroup$ OK great, thank you for tracking that down. Now I can read more about it. I'll add the SDO tag to the question. Here is a related image from that group, possibly just one wavelength. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Mar 17, 2016 at 16:10
  • $\begingroup$ I never stop being amazed by how much data is shared publicly in real time by NASA (et al.) Thanks for the links. Also thanks for noting the bit of history behind this particular image! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Mar 18, 2016 at 1:30

I'm posting these images as a supplement @Hobbes's accepted answer and @TildalWave's comments (which includes links to these images). I started reading some of those links. The gallery is a good starting place but there are different tabs to check out.

The values 171 and 304 represent the central wavelengths used, in Angstrom units. Our visible spectrum is roughly 4000 to 7000 Angstroms (400 to 700 nm) so these images are taken quite far into the ultraviolet range. In fact it's called "extreme ultraviolet" and the EIT instrument is called the Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope. This SOHO link has more info on the color coding of the images.

Here are the images that @TildalWave linked, which were combined to make the image in the original question.

171 Angstroms enter image description here


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