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Fantabulous Filament Eruption and Coronal Mass Ejection!

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Published on Sep 9, 2012

http://www.thesuntoday.org - A very large and bright prominence erupted off the surface of the Sun around 19:30 UT on August 31, 2012.

This structure called a filament or prominence (when it is viewed on the solar disk it is called a filament and when on the edge or limb of the sun it is called a prominence- basically prominences and filaments are the same thing - the names are historic) is around 30-50 Earth diameters in size but once it becomes unstable it quickly expands to a hemisphere of the sun as it erupts into space.

The panels from SDO show us the material in 4 different extreme ultraviolet wavelengths of light. Solar plasma at 4 different temperature ranges centered around 60,000(red), 600,000(yellow), 1(brown) and 2(purple/pink) million Kelvin from left to right, up to down.

Zooming in there is an incredible amount of detail including twisting and unraveling of the filament that is threaded by strong magnetic fields. The filament is like a rope or piece of yarn made up of solar plasma and magnetic field. Once it makes it out into space it makes up the core of a what we call a coronal mass ejection or CME. A billion tons of solar material traveling at several million miles per hour. The CME was clocked at ~1200-1400 km/s or 2.6 million mph. We can see the eruption from the left side of the sun using the STEREO Behind spacecraft (one of 2 nearly identical spacecraft that are observing the sun from the sides).

STEREO shows us both the solar disk and the outer corona. The outer corona is seen using the COR1 and COR2 coronagraphs, which are telescopes that create artificial eclipses.

The STEREO movies start with the fields of view of the EUVI (orange), COR1 (green) telescopes then we add COR2 (red) and finally the new HI telescope. All views show us the CME with the bright filament core moving away from the sun as it continuously expands. By the time the CME reached Earth it had expanded to the size of the inner solar system at least a 100 million miles in extent.

When these CMEs hit the Earth as this one did (not with a direct hit) we often experience Aurora as well as temporary communication blackouts and fluctuations in some power grids. We would not be able to study and predict their impact without the current network of space and ground based observatories we have today.

Note: in the COR2 images the bright object is the planet Venus. In the HI images there are faint loops on the left and right sides of the image. These are caused by reflections of the bright planet Venus inside the HI telescope.

These images are all extreme ultraviolet light.

The image NASA (on the cover of this video) posted shows temperatures around 2.5 million Kelvin (blue), 600,000 Kelvin (gold), 60,000 Kelvin (red) and 10 million Kelvin (teal). This panel shows 60,000 Kelvin (red), 600,000 Kelvin (gold), 1 million Kelvin (brown) and 2 million Kelvin (purple). These images are all extreme ultraviolet light.

60, 000 Kelvin = 108,000 degrees Fahrenheit
600,000 Kelvin = 1.08 million degrees Fahrenheit
1 million Kelvin = 1.8 million degrees Fahrenheit
2 million Kelvin = 3.6 million degrees Fahrenheit
2.5 million Kelvin = 4.5 million degrees Fahrenheit
10 million Kelvin = 18 million degrees Fahrenheit


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