This beautiful image shows our magnetically hyperactive sun
, ornamented with bright solar flares, arcs, and plasma streamers. The electrically charged plasma in the sun's outer layers creates turbulent bubbles the size of Texas, which generate local magnetic fields.
These magnetic field structures are often outlined by glowing plasma, because charged particles flow along magnetic field lines. That's why bright filaments outline sunspots, which are regions where plasma is trapped by intense magnetic fields, and cools down. Where magnetic field lines cross, they can release tremendous bursts of energy known as solar flares and even larger blasts called coronal mass ejections (CMEs). A single CME can fling as much as 10 percent of the sun's corona (its outer atmosphere) into space at intense speeds.