Exploding Solar Filament

Check out the video —   Beautiful!

FILAMENT ERUPTION: Solar activity is low, but not zero. During the early hours of Feb. 13th, a magnetic filament erupted near the sun’s SW limb. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the blast (click to set the scene in motion):

The extreme UV movie shows the filament flinging itself into space followed by the formation of a “canyon of fire” marking the channel formerly occupied by the filament. The glowing walls of the canyon are formed in a process closely related to that of arcade loops, which appear after many solar flares.

As erupting magnetic filaments often do, this one launched a coronal mass ejection (CME) into space. NASA’s STEREO-A spacecraft spotted the expanding cloud, which does not appear to be heading for Earth or any other planet.


Large Solar Filament

SUN SERPENT: Amateur astronomers arpund the world are monitoring a gigantic filament of magnetism on the sun. If one end of the filament were on Earth, the other end would reach all the way to the Moon. The dimensions of the structure make it an easy target for amateur solar telescopes. Richard Fleet sends this picture from his backyard observatory in Wiltshire, England:

This filament is filled with billions of tons of plasma, yet it has remained suspended above the surface of the sun for days. Such a massive structure, buffeted as it is by winds and currents in the sun’s atmosphere, is unlikely to remain stable much longer. If the filament collapses, it could crash into the surface of the sun and spark a powerful type of explosion called a Hyder flare.




CANYON OF FIRE: A magnetic filament snaking over the sun’s northeastern limb rose up and erupted during the early hours of Feb. 24th. The eruption split the sun’s atmosphere creating a “canyon of fire,” shown here in a movie captured by the Solar Dynamics Observatory:

The glowing walls of the canyon are formed in a process closely related to that ofarcade loops, which appear after many solar flares. Stretching more than 400,000 km from end to end, the structure traces the original channel where the filament was suspended by magnetic forces above the stellar surface.

As erupting magnetic filaments often do, this one launched a coronal mass ejection (CME) into space. The Solar and Heliospheric Observary recorded the expanding cloud

Solar Filament — 11/23

ERUPTION: The day before Thanksgiving, however, was not so quiet. On Nov. 23rd, a magnetic filament wrapping around the sun’s NW limb rose up and erupted. Click on the arrow to play the movie recorded by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory:

The eruption hurled a cloud of plasma (a “CME”) into space but not toward Earth. Because of the blast site’s high-northern location on the sun, the cloud flew up and out of the plane of the solar system; no planets will be affected.

Solar Filament


GREAT FILAMENT: It’s one of the biggest things in the entire solar system. A dark filament of magnetism measuring more than 800,000 km from end to end is sprawled diagonally across the face of the sun. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory took this ultraviolet picture of the structure during the late hours of Nov. 17th:

If the filament becomes unstable, as solar filaments sometimes do, it could collapse and hit the stellar surface below, triggering a Hyder flare. Indeed, part of the filament already erupted on Nov. 16th, but Earth was not in the line of fire. A similar event today would likely be geoeffective because of the filament’s central location on the solar disk.