2019 May 26
A Solar Prominence Eruption from SDO
Image Credit & Copyright: NASA/Goddard/SDO AIA Team
Explanation: One of the most spectacular solar sights is an erupting prominence. In 2011, NASA's Sun-orbiting Solar Dynamic Observatory spacecraft imaged an impressively large prominence erupting from the surface. The dramatic explosion was captured in ultraviolet light in the featured time lapse video covering 90 minutes, where a new frame was taken every 24 seconds. The scale of the prominence is huge -- the entire Earth would easily fit under the flowing curtain of hot gas. A solar prominence is channeled and sometimes held above the Sun's surface by the Sun's magnetic field. A quiescent prominence typically lasts about a month, and may erupt in a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) expelling hot gas into the Solar System. The energy mechanism that creates a solar prominence is still a topic of research. After our Sun passes the current Solar Minimum, solar activity like eruptive prominences are expected to become more common over the next few years.