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Recent Sun Activity: Plasma Fountains, Sun-Grazing Comet

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, Astronomía Y Astrofotografía.

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.

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.

  • Anonymous July 12, 2011, 5:18 PM

    The images we’re getting of the Sun these days are truly amazing http://canuckreport.ca

    • IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE July 12, 2011, 5:38 PM

      SPAM ALERT!

  • Anonymous July 12, 2011, 5:19 PM

    Truly amazing photos http://canuckreport.ca

    • IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE July 12, 2011, 5:38 PM

      SPAM ALERT!

  • samantha July 13, 2011, 9:40 AM

    I dont see any comet, can someone help me where to look?

    • Anonymous July 13, 2011, 11:25 AM

      It goes from right to left almost horizontally half way up the screen. It crosses the edge of the Sun when the video progress bar is about 1/3 across. Don’t try to look for it as an object but try to keep your eyes open to the whole scene, you should see what looks like the trail of dust from a fast car crossing the desert, presumably the comet’s tail.

  • Dave Stacey July 13, 2011, 9:34 PM

    I’ve never heard of sun plasma. At least Maunder and Max Planck never came up with such a prominence. Kiepenheur described prominences as being invisible. What is this plasma thing? Does it mean, since the prominences are being drawn on the image, that the so called plasma is drawn too? Plasma, sounds a little made up to me, such as ‘flux tubes’ are.

    Doowop62, Dave

    PS: Fool some, but not me.

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