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Giant Walls of Plasma Seen on Sun

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Author Topic: Giant Walls of Plasma Seen on Sun  (Read 28 times)
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« on: November 19, 2011, 07:01:44 pm »

Looping the Sun

Image courtesy Pete Lawrence

A bright, sinuous line of superheated gas, or plasma, loops around the rim of the sun on November 12. U.K.-based solar observer Pete Lawrence captured the picture using a filter-equipped telescope.

The solid black squares obscuring parts of the sun may be results of the image having been stitched together from smaller photographs, NASA's Gurman speculated.

"You could make images like this with a four- or five-inch telescope if you have really good optics and a special filter," Gurman said.

These gas loops are called solar prominences when viewed against space and solar filaments when viewed against the sun's surface. A gas loop can also be both a prominence and a filament, like the one captured in this image.

Prominences and filaments differ from solar flares in that prominences are typically less energetic and cooler, Gurman explained.

Also, prominences can linger for weeks or months at a time, while flares are much shorter-lived events.

(See "'Dark Fireworks' Seen on Sun-Blast as Big as Ten Earths.")

Published November 17, 2011
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