NASA spots giant filament on the Sun

PTI Washington | Updated on October 07, 2014 Published on October 07, 2014

A dark snaking line in the upper right of these images show a filament of solar material hovering above the sun's surface. NASA's SDO captured the images in extreme UV light – different colors represent different wavelengths of light and different temperatures of solar material.   -  Image Credit: NASA/SDO

NASA astronomers have observed a snaking, extended filament of solar material that lies on the front of the Sun — some 1 million miles across from end to end.

Filaments are clouds of solar material suspended above the Sun by powerful magnetic forces. Though notoriously unstable, filaments can last for days or even weeks.

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, which watches the Sun 24 hours a day, has observed this gigantic filament for several days as it rotated around.

If straightened out, the filament would reach almost across the whole Sun, about 1 million miles or 100 times the size of Earth.

SDO captured images of the filament in numerous wavelengths, each of which helps highlight material of different temperatures on the Sun.

By looking at any solar feature in different wavelengths and temperatures, scientists can learn more about what causes such structures, as well as what catalyses their occasional giant eruptions out into space.

Published on October 07, 2014
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