(USATODAY.com) - Ever wanted to know what it's like to dance on the sun?
Instruments aboard NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) captured stunning views of our nearest star late last month, as seen in this video of "prominence eruptions" blasting off the surface of the sun.
It's not a solar flare, according to NASA, but "material on the sun, doing what it always does, dancing and twisting — and in this case erupting off the side of the sun," according to NASA spokeswoman Susan Hendrix.
The material is a small, hovering mass of twisted plasma that shifts back and forth before erupting into space over the course of just one day.
The suspended plasma is being pulled and stretched by competing magnetic forces until something triggers the breakaway, NASA reports. This kind of activity is fairly common on the sun, but we have only been able to view them at this level of detail since the SDO began operations just four years ago.
The SDO is a satellite that's in orbit around the Earth, with sensors pointed at the sun to take a variety of measurements of the sun and solar activity.
One of the mission's goals is to see how the sun's magnetic field is generated and structured, and how it impacts life on Earth and our telecommunications systems.