1. The fastest ejections reach Earth in less than two days
Solar flares are sometimes accompanied by coronal mass ejections (CMEs), huge outpourings of energy and material that travel at up to 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) per second.
2. They release ten million times more energy than a volcano
A volcanic eruption pales in comparison to a solar flare. In a matter of minutes a solar flare, thought to be caused by magnetic fields, can eject billions of tons of charged particles.
3. During peak times there are over 20 solar flares a day
When the Sun is at solar maximum, the period in its 11-year cycle when its activity is at its highest, the Sun can unleash over 100 solar flares every week.
4. They are almost as hot as the core of the Sun
A solar flare can have a temperature of several million Kelvin. For comparison the hottest natural temperature ever recorded on Earth was a relatively measly 330 Kelvin in Death Valley, California.
5. A solar eruption once knocked out a power grid in Quebec
In March 1989 a huge CME, one of the largest on record, caused a geomagnetic storm in Earth’s atmosphere that crippled the Hydro-Quebec power grid in Canada.
Image courtesy of NASA/SDO