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SDO Captures a Monster Solar Prominence

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.

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.

About 

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

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • stlastla February 25, 2011, 12:42 PM

    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.

  • Question February 25, 2011, 6:49 PM

    ooooh… new desktop…

  • Lazarus February 25, 2011, 10:30 PM

    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?

  • ND February 26, 2011, 7:34 PM

    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.

    • Torbjorn Larsson OM February 27, 2011, 7:35 AM

      The spacetime paradox of beauty: the larger the beauty, the less time have passed.

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