The 2013 New Year's Day coincided with "natural fireworks" erupting from the sun, which is approaching "solar maximum," during which there will be more intense solar flares.
As dangerous as it looks, the solar flares occur periodically without posing actual threats against the planet Earth. Solar flares are brief releases of intense high-energy radiation from the sun's surface. These are typically observed with special instruments because the resulting colours are not observable by the naked eye. Solar flares emit X-rays and UV radiation which can potentially affect Earth's ionosphere and disrupt long-range radio communications. Despite this, the past solar flares have not been a threat to human life.
Just before Dec. 21, when many people got anxious of doomsday rumours, space scientists explained solar flares should not be linked to end-of-the-world talks. The Sun's regular 11-year solar cycle is expected to peak in 2013 and 2014, but even then, scientists are expecting a milder, less intense solar than in the previous cycle.
From afar, the image of the sun's flames dancing in the solar atmosphere is a dramatic and stunning sight. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) captured a footage of the solar activity. Camilla Corona SDO took to Twitter on Jan. 1 to announce: "It's a Solar Ballet - beautiful view of an eruption on today's Sun."
Solar physicists continue to observe activities on the sun's surface. They expect the solar flares to intensify over the next 12 months. Still, they have been consistent in saying that the previous cycle had been more intense than the current solar conditions.
VIDEO: New Year's Day Solar Flare as Solar Fireworks