Sun Erupts: Epic Blast Seen by NASA Solar Observatory
NASA solar observatories recently filmed one of the largest known sun eruptions, which blasted "a huge amount of material into space."
The twin, golf cart-size spacecraft of NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) mission filmed, in ultraviolet light, the largest solar "prominence" in 15 years, according to the space agency. (See the video above, which compresses about 19 hours of solar activity on April 12 and 13).
Stretching nearly halfway across the sun, the looping eruption of ionized helium "is definitely one of the largest" solar prominences ever witnessed, said Madhulika Guhathakurta, a STEREO program scientist at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C.
(See more pictures of solar eruptions.)
The looping, gaseous eruptions are linked to changes in the strength of the sun's magnetic field, though the details of how solar prominences form remain an active area of research, Guhathakurta said.