Solar Clouds on a Sunny Day (June 1, 2005)
Hi-res TIF image (2.9M)
Within minutes of each other (and rarely seen in this 304 Angstrom wavelength of ultraviolet light), the Sun blasted out huge, swirling clouds of particles into space. SOHO was watching as an eruptive prominence, a floating cloud of gases above the Sun's surface, suddenly became unstable and rushed away from the Sun's lower right side. Minutes later a small solar flare triggered a similar event near an active region (seen as a white area) just left of the Sun middle. The material can be seen as darker red strands crossing the Sun's surface to the right. |
To get a sense of the scale involved here, in both cases the size of these strands is about 300,000 miles long or about 30 Earth's. The clouds of particles roared away at about half a million miles per hour. While these kinds of solar events occur fairly frequently, usually this instrument does not take images at this high cadence of one image every 12 minutes. SOHO was fortunate to capture the event in exquisite detail.
SOHO, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, is an international mission of NASA and the European Space Agency.
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