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Huge filament eruption after X-ray flare (2010 August 1 - SDO/AIA 304 Angstroms)

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Uploaded on Aug 1, 2010

At approximately 0855 UTC on August 1, 2010, a C3.2 magnitude soft X-ray flare erupted from NOAA Active Sunspot Region 11092 (1092). Latest updates on website: http://SunSpotWatch.com/

At nearly the same time, a massive filament eruption occurred. Prior to the filament's eruption, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) AIA instruments revealed an enormous plasma filament stretching across the sun's northern hemisphere. When the solar shock wave triggered by the C3.2-class X-ray explosion plowed through this filament, it caused the filament to erupt, sending out a huge plasma cloud.

In this movie, taken by SDO AIA at the 304-Angstrom wavelength, a cooler shock wave can be seen emerging from the origin of the X-ray flare and sweeping across the sun's northern hemisphere into the filament field. The impact of this shock wave may well have propelled the filament into space.

This movie seems to support this analysis: Despite the approximately 400,000 kilometer distance between the flare and the filament eruption, they appear to erupt together. How can this be? Most likely they're connected by long-range magnetic fields (remember: we cannot see these magnetic field lines unless there is plasma riding these fields).

NOTE: The energy that will likely be transferred by the plasma mass that was ejected by the two eruptions (first, the slower-moving coronal mass ejection originating in the C-class X-ray flare at sunspot region 1092, and, second, the faster-moving plasma ejection originating in the filament eruption) is at most "moderate". This event was rather low in energy. It will not result in any news-worth events on Earth (no laptops will be fried, no power grids will fail).

This is an amazing event, though. A complex series of eruptions involving most of the visible surface of the sun has occurred, ejecting plasma toward the Earth. This coronal mass ejection (CME) rides the solar wind. Depending on the speed of the solar wind and the ejected plasma, this cloud will reach Earth's magnetosphere sometime between August 3 and August 5. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras. Radio communications by way of the ionosphere may become degraded soon after the CME arrives, and the degraded conditions may last for up to three days.

This video clip is captured by SDO (Solar Dynamics Observatory) at the 304-Angstrom wavelength, a wavelength invisible to our eyes. So, it is not in any visible color. SDO images of this wavelength are sometimes colored as red, but in this raw footage, it is captured as-is.

Be sure to view the other video showing this event in the 171-Angstrom wavelength: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HW_-yQ...

UPDATE on 4 August 2010:

See related video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zy4Hgi... - this related video shows the "resulting" shock wave several days later. Note that this did NOT result in any thing more than a bit of aurora seen by folks living in high-latitude areas (like Norway, for instance).

Source: NASA/SDO

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