This image shows four separate images of the M5.3 class flare from the morning of July 4, 2012. In clockwise order starting at the top left, the wavelengths shown are: 131, 94, 193, and 171 Angstroms. Each wavelength shows a different temperature of material, which in turn corresponds to different levels of the sun's atmosphere. By looking at images in several wavelengths, scientists can track how a solar eruption moves through the layers.
An active region on the sun, labeled AR1515, sent out an M5.3 class solar flare that peaked on July 4, 2012 at 5:55 AM EDT.
This is the same region that produced an M5.6 class flare on July 2, and several smaller flares as well.
The sunspots (left, lower group) causing this latest burst of activity stretches more than 100,000 miles across, over 12 times the diameter of Earth.
Explore further: Partial solar eclipse sweeps across North America