Image of the Day: Gigantic Plasma Eruption Observed on Sun


The giant solar eruption created a long filament of magnetic plasma, which extended an astounding 435,000 miles (700,000 kilometers) — nearly twice the distance between the Earth and the moon — across the sun's southeastern region, according to the website, which monitors solar storms and sky events.

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory caught a stunning snapshot of the monster sun storm early on the morning of Dec. 6th.

"The massive structure is an easy target for backyard telescopes (monitoring is encouraged) and it has the potential for an impressive eruption if it happens to collapse in the hours or days ahead," reported in an update. The website described the solar prominence as a "mega-filament."

Eruptions on the sun's surface can blast tons of plasma into space — sometimes right at the Earth. Astonishing new pictures from NASA show the giant flares and clouds of ionized gas erupting from the star.

"So far the massive structure has hovered quietly above the stellar surface, but now it is showing signs of instability," reporter. "Long filaments like this one have been known to collapse with explosive results when they hit the stellar surface below."

The sun is in the midst of an extremely active period of its 11-year solar weather cycle after a long lull in activity.



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