Nitration of a methoxybenzoic acid.
The tricky party is that the reaction starts at 45 °C, it is highly exothermic, uses high excess of nitric acid and it should be kept at maximum 40 °C. So what happens? Instant overreaction.
If this is not bad enough, the yield of the preferred nitro compound is only 10-15% and a LOT nitrous fumes forms during the reaction as seen on the pictures.
Interesting part is that the gas bubbler contained some water and the formed dinitrogen trioxide is being dissolved in it forming a blue solution. N2O3 is the anhydride of the unstable nitrous acid (HNO2), and produces it when mixed into water. However when it is in high concentrations, it stays in N2O3 form for a while and could be observed, just as in this case.
If a base is added, the corresponding salt of nitrous acid could be formed:
N2O3 + 2 NaOH → 2 NaNO2 + H2O