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What causes the Sun's eruptions — big or small

NASA/SDO

Plasma eruptions from the Sun's surface — from small bursts to gigantic eruptions that can cause spectacular auroras on Earth — are all part of the same process and have the same underlying mechanism, a new study in Nature shows.

Why this matters: Electromagnetic radiation from the sun can cause interference with radio and satellite transmissions. The high-energy, charged particles from the sun's eruptions also can endanger astronauts in space (one of the challenges to traveling to places like Mars). Understanding the true nature of the plasma eruptions across the entire spectrum will potentially allow scientists to mitigate risks.