A monster solar prominence captured by SDO. Credit: NASA
A monster solar prominence captured by SDO. Credit: NASA

Missions, sun

SDO Captures a Monster Solar Prominence

25 Feb , 2011 by

The Sun continues to be active! A large-sized (M 3.6 class) flare occurred near the edge of the Sun on February 24, 2011, and it blew out a gorgeous, waving mass of erupting plasma that swirled and twisted over a 90-minute period. This event was captured in extreme ultraviolet light by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft. Some of the material blew out into space and other portions fell back to the surface. Because SDO images are super-HD, the scienctists can zoom in on the action and still see exquisite details. The video above was created using a cadence of a frame taken every 24 seconds; still, the sense of motion is, by all appearances, seamless. Sit back and enjoy the jaw-dropping solar show. See one of the images, below.

Spaceweather.com reports that Earth was little affected by this blast, as plasma clouds produced by the blast did not come our way.


The latest active sunspot — #1163 — is currently behind the Sun’s eastern limb, but be turning toward Earth in the days ahead, setting the stage for more activity if the eruptions continue.


By  -        
Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today's Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT's Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

5 Responses

  1. stlastla says:

    Fantastik movie clip. With this quality it gets so intense and realistic. You can read about M3.6 (as i´m a hobby entusiast and normally not that into the tecnical aspect) but looking at the clip makes it so more real.
    It will be fascinating to observe how the outbreak will be felt on earth if they continue and sent in our direction.

  2. Question says:

    ooooh… new desktop…

  3. Lazarus says:

    I love how you can watch the infalling gas funnel into a convergence point on the surface that I can only guess is a magnetic focal point near the bottom of the frame. I’m no physicist and don’t know the first thing about fluid dynamics or magnetic plasma interactions, but I imagine that sort of detail tells the scientists who do quite a bit. Plus, who can argue with the sheer beauty of the spectacle?

  4. ND says:

    If I read the clock at the bottom correctly, the entire video covers about 1.5 hours. That’s covering a large amount of space in that time frame.

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