Image of the Day: Grab Your Shades for This Sunny Shot

Given that it’s essentially a gigantic hydrogen bomb that’s been exploding for more than 4 billion years, the Sun is remarkably stable — so much so that we can count on it to provide heat and light with an almost unvarying intensity for at least five billion years more. A flickering Sun would be the most obvious culprit in the current warming of the globe, except that delicate measurements show no flickering at all. Almost, anyway: the Sun does belch out plumes of super-hot gas like this one with some frequency. They don’t heat up the Earth at all, but if a burst of gas escapes and speeds toward Earth, it can play havoc with radio communications. This flare, impressive though it looks, is relatively weak. We probably won’t notice a thing.

Credit: NASA