Speed Reads

Watch this

NASA's IRIS observatory catches massive solar eruption in crystal-clear resolution

YouTube/NASA Goddard

NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) was able to get an amazing video of a coronal mass ejection (CME) erupting outward from the sun at roughly 1.5 million miles per hour.

It was the first time the solar observatory IRIS was able to catch a CME, which NASA describes as gigantic bubbles of gas threaded with magnetic field lines that are ejected from the sun over several hours. "We focus in on active regions to try to see a flare or a CME," says Bart De Pontieu, the IRIS science lead at Lockheed Martin Solar & Astrophysics Laboratory. "And then we wait and hope we'll catch something. This is the first clear CME for IRIS so the team is very excited."

The field of view for the imagery "is about five Earths wide and about seven and a half Earths tall," NASA said. The CME took place on May 9, and IRIS was launched in June 2013. --Catherine Garcia