Scientists recently observed a large prominence near Sun’s north pole.
What is ‘solar prominence’?
- Large, loop-like structures on the edge of the solar disk sometimes stand out brightly against the dark background of space. These enormous structures are called solar prominences.
- Prominences are anchored to the Sun’s surface in the photosphere, and extend outwards into the Sun’s hot outer atmosphere, called the corona.
- They are much cooler and denser than the surrounding plasma in the Sun’s corona.
- Prominences are shaped by the Sun’s complex magnetic field, often forming loops with each end anchored to the Sun’s surface.
- Prominences are enormous, extending out for many thousands of kilometers.
- They can last for several days or up to several months.
- Some prominences erupt and break apart, giving rise to coronal mass ejections (CMEs).
What are Solar Filaments?
- Sometimes prominences are observed against the bright background of the Sun itself, instead of at the edge of the Sun’s disk.
- These prominences appear dark compared to the bright background of the Sun and are called solar filaments.
What are Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs)?
- CMEs are large expulsions of plasma and magnetic field from the Sun’s corona that propagates outward into interplanetary space.
- The blast of a CME carries about a billion tons of material out from the Sun at very high speeds of hundreds of kilometers per second.
- They can cause geomagnetic storms on Earth that can have significant impact on both ground- and space-based technological systems.