SDO Captures a Monster Solar Prominence

by Nancy Atkinson on February 25, 2011

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

A monster solar prominence captured by SDO. Credit: NASA

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.


Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

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