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.