A filament of magnetism stretching halfway across the sun erupted during the late hours of April 4th (22:00-23:00 UT). The eruption split the sun's atmosphere, hurling a CME into space and creating a "canyon of fire," shown here in a movie recorded by the Solar Dynamics Observatory:
The glowing walls of the canyon trace the original channel where the filament was suspended by magnetic forces above the stellar surface. From end to end, the structure stretches more than 300,000 km--a real Grand Canyon.
Fragments of the exploding filament formed the core of a CME that raced away from the sun at approximately 900 km/s (2 million mph): image. Most of the CME will miss Earth, but a glancing blow cannot yet be ruled out because SOHO coronagraph imagery is still incomplete.