May 18, 2022 9:17 am

a solar prominence

A solar prominence, sometimes called a filament, is a large, glowing gaseous feature that extends outward from the Sun’s surface, often in a loop.

Francis Martin Leon 3 min
Solar prominence: Image and image credit: NASA, ESA, SOHO-EIT Consortium

How can gas float on the Sun? Twisted magnetic fields arcing out from the sun’s surface can trap ionized gas, suspending it in huge looping structures.

These majestic plasma arcs they are seen as prominences on the solar limb. In 1999, this spectacular and detailed image was captured by the Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope aboard the SOHO space observatory in the light emitted by ionized helium.

The image shows hot plasma escaping into space as a fiery prominence breaks free from magnetic confinement 100,000 kilometers above the Sun. These amazing events are worth watching, as they can affect communications and power systems for more than 100 million Earths. kilometers away on planet Earth.

In late 2020, our Sun passed the solar minimum of its 11-year cycle and is now showing increased activity on the surface.

Wikipedia Notes

“A prominence, sometimes referred to as a filament, is a large, bright gaseous feature that extends outward from the Sun’s surface, often in a loop. Prominences are anchored to the Sun’s surface in the photosphere and extend toward out in the solar corona. While the corona consists of extremely hot ionized gases, known as plasma, that do not emit much visible light, prominences contain much cooler plasma, similar in composition to that of the chromosphere. Prominence plasma is typically one hundred times more luminous and dense than coronal plasma.

The bulges form on time scales of about a day and can persist in the corona for several weeks or months, traveling hundreds of thousands of kilometers into space. Some prominences break off and can give rise to coronal mass ejections. Scientists are currently investigating how and why the prominences form.

A typical prominence extends for many thousands of kilometers; the largest on record was estimated to be more than 800,000 km long, roughly one solar radius.”


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