Fact Check: An Alleged NASA Video of 'Plasma Wall' Spotted on the Sun Went Viral. Here's What To Know



Footage shared to social media and credited to NASA authentically showed an enormous “plasma wall” on the sun.


Rating: Mixture
Rating: Mixture

What's True:

Video footage of a so-called "plasma wall" observed on the sun during an intense solar storm appears to have been generated using genuine NASA data ...


What's False:

However, the space agency did not create the widely shared clip itself.


What's Undetermined:

Snopes was unable to determine who did create the video.


Weeks after much of the northern hemisphere witnessed a dazzling display of the northern lights, a video circulated on social media that purportedly showed an "enormous plasma wall spotted on the sun." Through a Google keyword search, Snopes determined that the clip had been shared across the internet on platforms from YouTube and X to Instagram, including some posts that credited NASA with creating the footage. 

The earliest example Snopes is aware of is the post below, which was shared on the Reddit thread r/Damnthatsinteresting on May 21, 2024. At the time of this publication, it had received more than 54,000 upvotes. 

Sarah Frazier, heliophysics communications manager at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, told Snopes that although NASA itself did not publish the video, it appears to have been made with genuine data from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). However, the space agency did not create the widely shared clip. For these reasons, we have rated this claim as a "Mixture." 

Frazier said the video was created "using multiple wavelengths of data combined using an online tool that pulls in solar data." The "wall of plasma" feature matches a single-wavelength view of solar flares observed by NASA as part of its SDO data from May 20, 2024, which Frazier sent in a screenshot below:

(Courtesy of NASA/Sarah Frazier)

On May 20, 2024, NASA's SDO observed a "battery" of multiple M-class, or medium-sized, flares that erupted from two active areas on the sun. The space agency recorded and published these observations in at least three different wavelengths, which it published here

NASA described May 2024 as the "most intense solar storm in decades," with several X-class solar flares, the most energetic and powerful types. 

"Solar flares are giant explosions on the sun that send energy, light and high speed particles into space. These flares are often associated with solar magnetic storms known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs)," explained NASA.  

The sun is made of a hot, ionized gas known as plasma, which constantly moves to drive ever-changing conditions on the sun. On Earth, for example, we see plasma in the form of lightning.  

While a flare is a burst of radiation, the European Space Agency writes that a 'CME  "flings out large amounts of solar material in the form of huge bubbles of charged particles (plasma) threaded with magnetic field lines."

CMEs launch clouds of charged particles and magnetic fields toward Earth, causing the northern lights. May 2024 marked the strongest solar storm to reach Earth in two decades – and one of the strongest displays on record in the last 500 years. 

It occurred during Solar Cycle 25, which refers to the cycle that the Sun's magnetic field goes through approximately every 11 years. Solar Cycle 25 began in 2019 and is expected to last until 2030, with some of the most energetic activity expected to occur in July 2025, according to NASA.


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