Archive for November, 2011
The filament is the large dark straggly line of material in the upper left of the movie. Click here to see the movie in helioviewer.org.
Filaments are cool strands of material about 100 times cooler than the surrounding plasma, and are supported by magnetic fields. They can lie suspended but cool in the hot solar atmosphere for weeks, and then erupt in a matter of minutes, causing coronal mass ejections. It should be rotating into the SDO field of view in the next couple of days. If you are on Facebook, The Sun Today has a great post about this filament. Let’s see what happens!
NASA astrophysicist James Klimchuk recently gave a talk to the American Geophysical Union on the connection between the Sun, space weather and the Earth.
Dr. Klimchuk gives a great description of the chain of physics that leads from the Sun to the Earth, and it is well worth a look for those who want to get an overview of how events on the Sun can affect the Earth. For example at this time Dr. Klimchuk talks about the solar prominences and how we create artificial eclipses to see coronal mass ejections. From here Dr. Klimchuk talks about the production of the aurora and other effects that Earth-directed coronal mass ejections can produce.
If you are interested in learning more about the AGU’s science, please go to their YouTube channel to see more.
The filament(1) is the narrow dark moving thread in the middle of the field of view. As the movie progresses the filament evolves and eventually erupts out in to space, causing a coronal mass ejection. The material underneath the filament darkens, indicating an evacuation of plasma, that is, the plasma is draining away from that part of the solar atmosphere. These kinds of events happen a lot, and will happen more as solar activity ramps up. Thank you, muriealdurian, for uploading a good example of a filament eruption.
(1) Prominences are filaments seen over the limb of the Sun – prominences and filaments are the same thing, but have different names for historical reasons. Prominences and filaments were first observed in different wavelengths, and so acquired different names. Later, we realized that they were the same thing, but the two names have stuck around in the literature.