(via Gorgeous flowing plasma fountain erupts from the Sun | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine)

Only a middle-sized M-class flare here (the X-class one recently is what caused a whole lot of aurorae here on Earth), but to give you an idea of how the Sun kills most concepts of “scale”, the amount of energy in this “meh” (for the Sun) M-class flare is still more powerful than the combined nuclear weaponry of every nation on Earth. That is one powerful force.

So, put that video up to 720p or 1080p, run it full screen and remember that every frame of video is a minute of exposure time, so this is 3 hours of activity compressed.

Phil guesses that the gas jet and material being thrown off the surface is about 100,000 kilometers long. Note that the material doesn’t fall down ballistically, like you would see if something was suddenly chucked into the air here on Earth. The material itself is ionized in the flare eruption, so it is particularly attuned to the Sun’s magnetic field, making the path back down to the surface less of a “fall” and more of a “flow” along magnetic lines of force.

Truly awesome footage from the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory.