Summer starts today in the northern hemisphere and so, one might say, does the season of the Sun. As the Hayden Planetarium blog reports, we are in the midst of the most active part of the Sun’s 11-year sunspot cycle. On May 17th, NASA captured images of a coronal mass ejection from the Sun’s surface that headed towards Earth (pictured above). For three days, billions of subatomic particles streamed across space before reaching us.

Image credit: Combined view of coronal mass ejection on May 17, 2013 at 5:36 am EDT. NASA/SDO/Goddard, ESA & NASA SOHO


From time to time, storms on the Sun's surface—solar flares, coronal mass ejections—toss off added masses of energy and ions. And when that turbulence slams into Earth, it produces space weather.

For more on the effects of space weather, check out this video from Science Bulletins: