by Katie Bowell, Curator of Cultural Interpretation
A magnetic filament more than 50 times wider than the Earth has been errupting on the Sun since Saturday, December 4th.
Magnetic filaments are threads of hot, charged plasma formed in magnetic loops on the sun that, when seen in profile, look like giant, glowing loops of fire called “prominences” extending out from the sun.
When NASA first saw this magnetic filament, it was more than 250,000 miles long. By early this morning, the loop of plasma stretched more than 435,000 miles long – the full radius of the Sun (and the largest recorded one I can find mention of).
There’s a chance that this long filament will break apart as coronal mass ejections, releasing plasma, magnetic fields and electromagnetic radiation into space. It’s an incredible sight to see.
Want to see the prominence for yourself? If you have a telescope with ultraviolet filters, you can. If anyone takes photos of the magnetic filament, we’d love to see them!
You can continue to track the prominence’s development through NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.