Freaky Dancing Plasma on the Sun

Normally plasma from the Sun either shoots off into space or loops back on the Sun’s surface. But the Solar Dynamics Observatory captured some plasma that couldn’t make up its mind. Here, darker, cooler plasma slid and shifted back and forth above the Sun’s surface for 30 hours on February 7-8, 2012. The view is shown in extreme ultraviolet light. As a backdrop, an active region just rotating into view shows bright plasma gyrating into streams — normally how the plasma behaves. SDO scientists say the darker particles are being pulled back and forth by competing magnetic forces, tracking along strands of magnetic field lines.

And by the way, tomorrow is SDO’s 2nd anniversary! It launched two years ago on February 11, 2010. Happy anniversary, SDO and thanks for all the great videos and data so far! We wish you many more!