A huge solar eruption on March 19 threw a loop of plasma a quarter of a million miles high above the solar surface. The flaming plasma was forced back to the surface by the sun’s magnetic field, but not before a tremendous volume of material was thrown completely into space.
The five-hour solar event was captured on video by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.
The eruption, called a solar prominence, was not facing the Earth the way last Febuary’s aurora-spanning event fired charged particles towards us.
“Prominences are elongated clouds of plasma that hover above the sun’s surface, tethered by magnetic forces,” a scientist with the NASA SDO office said.
The sun goes through a regular cycle of activity, called the 11 year sun spot cycle. The new cycle is building up after an unusually long prolonged period of inactivity. Scientists speculate that the present cycle of sun spots may increase in frequency and severity to match the recent long and deep lull.
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