Home > Astronomy, Astrophysics, General Astronomy, Solar System, Sun > Solar Prominences Put On Strange And Beautiful Show In The Sun’s Sky

Solar Prominences Put On Strange And Beautiful Show In The Sun’s Sky


Rotating disc in solar prominence. Credit: NASA / SDO / Li / Smith / Aberystwyth University

Rotating disc in solar prominence. Credit: NASA / SDO / Li / Smith / Aberystwyth University

Cloud spotting seems to be growing in popularity as a hobby here on Earth. Now scientists studying the solar atmosphere are building their own collection of fascinating moving features that they’ve spotted in the Sun’s sky. The unusual solar prominences include a giant disc that rotates for several hours, feathery streamers as long as fifty Earths, a super-heated jet striking the top of a prominence and twisted ribbons flowing in opposite directions at a million kilometres per hour.

The features were discovered by Dr Xing Li and PhD student, Jeff Smith, of Aberystwyth University using the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) telescope on board the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) satellite. The findings have been presented at the RAS National Astronomy Meeting in St Andrews.

Prominences are – relatively – cold gaseous features, with temperatures around 5000 degrees Celsius compared to the surrounding the hot solar atmosphere of about 1-2 million degrees. They can be seen as towering features extending outwards from the Sun’s surface, often in the shape of a loop. They are called filaments when viewed against the solar disc, appearing as dark stripes because the cold gases they contain absorb the light emitted from below. Solar prominences and filaments supply most of the material released in coronal mass ejections, vast eruptions from the Sun’s atmosphere that can cause space weather and create geomagnetic storms on Earth.

Full Story: http://www.ras.org.uk/news-and-press/224-news-2013/2315-solar-prominences-put-on-strange-and-beautiful-show-in-the-suns-sky

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