The blast of particles - a 'coronal mass ejection' - was not directed towards Earth, but the charged particles caused brief radio interference across Europe.
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This image, captured by the Solar Dynamics Observatory, shows the M5.3 class solar flare that peaked on July 4, 2012
SUMI'ss instruments are designed to study magnetic fields of the sun's chromosphere -- a thin layer of solar atmosphere sandwiched between the visible surface, photosphere and its atmosphere, the corona
From a different spot, but on that same day, the sun unleashed a coronal mass ejection (CME) that began at 4:36 AM on Tuesday.
Sunspots are darker than the surrounding area because they are slightly cooler, which makes them less luminous.