This is stunning video from NASA on how the sun closed out 2012 and brought in 2013.
This solar eruption of super hot plasma was driven by magnetic forces but without enough strength to overcome the sun's gravity, it fell back to the surface of the sun. This eruption took place over four hours.
The solar flare extended 160,000 mile from the surface of the sun. While modest in size, this flare dwarfs the Earth in size. Our planet has a diameter of just 7,900 miles. Check out the photo of eruption by clicking the photo tab. There is an image of the Earth superimposed over the eruption to allow for a comparison. (Byt the way, the Earth is 93-million miles from the sun, well out of reach of the discharge.)
This video comes from NASA. Learn more here: http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/videogallery/index.html?media_id=158014611