You’re looking at a nuclear explosion. Shot Turk of Operation Teapot. The image was created by stitching together a single column of pixels from each frame of a film of the test.
The film came from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s published Youtube playlist of atmospheric nuclear tests. Many of these films are surprisingly beautiful pieces in their own right, at least if you look at them abstractly. Kind of makes you wish they were still setting these damn things off, if only for their artistic potential.
The one column sampling technique used to create the image is very similar to gif-slice. I think the official term for it is strip photography. It’s an interesting approach because it captures time in a single image, a winning combination when combined with such fun source material.
You can see a few example scans below. Click on them to see the full size images. I’ve also posted up the source code of the script used to generate these. It’s super inefficient, but gets the job done. All of the images below came directly from the script, although some of the images sample rows instead of columns and a few use wider row and column widths for sampling. The script repo has more details about all the sampling options.