Huffpost Science

Solar Plasma Wave Larger Than Earth Erupted October 19, Solar Dynamics Observatory Reports

Posted: Updated:
SOLAR PLASMA WAVE
A solar prominence rose up and swept away from the sun as captured in this image at 4:15 a.m. EDT on Oct. 19, 2012. | NASA/Steele Hill

By: SPACE.com Staff
Published: 10/19/2012 06:31 PM EDT on SPACE.com

A giant wave of super-hot solar plasma larger than the Earth erupted from the sun on Friday (Oct. 19) in a spectacular display captured by a NASA spacecraft.

The huge solar prominence occurred at 4:15 a.m. EDT (0815 GMT) and was recorded in amazing detail by the high-definition cameras aboard NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory before escaping the sun.

"Once it started breaking away, the process only took 10 hours before it was out of sight," NASA media specialist Steele Hill explained in a photo description. "The prominence stretched out many times the size of Earth."

The Solar Dynamics Observatory showed the solar prominence as a wispy red-orange wave stretching out from the lower right section of the sun. The image was recorded in the 304 Angstrom wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light, according to Hill.

Prominences are eruptions of charged solar plasma that appear to arc out away from the sun's edge, or limb, in spacecraft and telescope views. The structures are shaped by extreme magnetic field. Some loop-like prominences are short-lived, lasting only a few minutes. Others can be more stable, lasting hours or days, NASA scientists have said in the past.  

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory is one of several spacecraft keeping a constant watch on the sun to track major solar flares, eruptions other space weather events. The sun is currently in an active phase of its 11-year solar weather cycle and is expected to reach its peak activity in 2013.

The current solar weather cycle is known as Solar Cycle 24. The Solar Dynamics Observatory has been tracing the sun's weather activity since the probe's launch in 2010.

Follow SPACE.com on Twitter @Spacedotcom. We're also on Facebook and Google+.

Copyright 2012 SPACE.com, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Related on HuffPost:

The Many Faces Of The Sun
of
Share
Tweet
Advertisement
Share this
close
Current Slide

Suggest a correction

Around the Web

Sun Unleashes Huge Solar Plasma Wave | Space.com

Sun Unleashes Spectacular Solar Plasma Wave

AlienThe Sun, the Earth and Cataclysmic Phenomena

NASA's Radiation Belt Storm Probes record electromagnetic "Earthsong"

Sweeping X-ray imaging survey of dying stars is 'uncharted territory'

Sweeping X-ray imaging survey of dying stars is "uncharted territory"