Recent Sun Activity: Plasma Fountains, Sun-Grazing Comet

by Nancy Atkinson on July 12, 2011

Interesting activity captured on the Sun early today (July 12, 2011) showing an active region on the Sun’s Eastern limb. Plasma was hurled very high above the stellar surface, but didn’t have the needed escape velocity and most of the plasma “rained” back down in a fountain. The video shows the activity in different wavelengths.

See below for more views, including the first time a sun-grazing comet was seen disintegrating over the Sun’s surface.


The Sun on July 11, 2011. Credit: Cesar Cantu from Monterrey, Mexico, and the Chilidog Observatory. Click for high resolution version.

This great ground-based look at the Sun is from July 11, 2011. “A sun a little more active than the past few days, although with much mist in the city, making it impossible to get photos of larger increases,” said Cesar Cantu from Monterrey, Mexico, with his Chilidog Observatory. See more at his website, Astronom√≠a Y Astrofotograf√≠a.

The Solar Dynamics Observatory AIA imager spotted a sun-grazing comet zooming across the face of the sun and disintegrating over about a 15 minute period on July 6, 2011. This has never observed before. It’s a little difficult to see, but look closely as a line of light appears in the right just off the edge of the Sun and move across to the left. The angle of the comet’s orbit brought it across the front half of the Sun.Given the intense heat and radiation, the comet simply evaporated away completely. SDO scientists say the comet was probably a member of the Kreutz sun-grazer family. The AIA imager took this video in extreme ultraviolet.

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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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