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Plasma mega-snake on the sun!

December 6th, 2010

close up image of solar filament

This just in from our “Solar Dynamics Observatory is blowing my mind” department — and  a plasma mega-snake on the sun.

A magnetic filament snaking around the sun’s southeast limb just keeps getting longer. The portion visible today stretches more than 700,000 km–a full solar radius. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory took this picture during the early hours of Dec. 6th. The STEREO-B spacecraft, stationed over the sun’s eastern horizon, saw this filament coming last week. So far the massive structure has hovered quietly above the stellar surface, but now it is showing signs of instability. Long filaments like this one have been known to collapse with explosive results when they hit the stellar surface below. Stay tuned for action.

OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.

  1. Michael Derry
    December 6th, 2010 at 15:28 | #1

    Unbelievable, how stable is our beautiful sun? Have these been observed before of similar size and longevity? Thanks for keeping us posted, to this layman it is scary.

    • dpendick
      December 6th, 2010 at 15:50 | #2

      Not all disturbances on the sun cause problems here on Earth–but some do. NASA watches this “space weather” very closely and issues warning when appropriate. Satellite and power grid operators use them to prevent harmful effects.

      We got your back!

  2. December 6th, 2010 at 16:03 | #3

    Truly awesome !!

  3. oO
    December 7th, 2010 at 09:10 | #4

    I find it interesting that Helioseizmology shows sun is oscilating like a bell, could it be sun is actually hollow inside? That would explain partially why sun spots are black, what do you guys think?

    • dpendick
      December 7th, 2010 at 09:58 | #5

      Interesting thought, but nope–the sun is definitely not hollow. Things of the oscillations as the jiggling of a ball of Jell-O!

  4. December 7th, 2010 at 15:11 | #6

    amazing! the beauty of the universe never ceases to amaze me. how incredible that we can see photos like that online; thanks!

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