REMARKABLE SOLAR ACTIVITY: There haven’t been any strong solar flares in days. Nevertheless, some impressive activity is underway on the sun. For one thing, an enormous wall of plasma is towering over the sun’s southeastern horizon. Stephen Ramsden of Atlanta, Georgia, took this picture on Nov. 11th:
“Solar forums all over the world are buzzing with Sun-stronomers proclaiming this to be the biggest prominence that many of them had ever witnessed,” he says.
Remarkably, though, this is not the biggest thing. A dark filament of magnetism is snaking more than halfway around the entire sun: SDO image. From end to end, it stretches more than a million km or about three times the distance between Earth and the Moon. If the filament becomes unstable, as solar filaments are prone to do, it could collapse and hit the stellar surface below, triggering a Hyder flare. No one can say if the eruption of such a sprawling structure would be Earth directed.
“I cant help but wonder what could possibly come next since we are still over a year away from the forecasted Solar Maximum,” adds Ramsden. “There’s never been a better time to own a solar telescope than now!”