Solar prominences

A prominence is a large, bright, gaseous feature extending outward from the Sun's surface, often in a loop shape. Prominences are anchored to the Sun's surface in the photosphere, and extend outwards into the Sun's corona. While the corona consists of extremely hot ionized gases, known as plasma, which do not emit much visible light, prominences contain much cooler plasma, similar in composition to that of the chromosphere. The prominence plasma is typically a hundred times cooler and denser than the coronal plasma. A prominence forms over timescales of about a day, and prominences may persist in the corona for several weeks or months. Some prominences break apart and may then give rise to coronal mass ejections. Scientists are currently researching how and why prominences are formed.

A typical prominence extends over many thousands of kilometres; the largest on record was estimated at over 800,000 kilometres (500,000 mi) long [1] – roughly the radius of the Sun.

When a prominence is viewed from a different perspective so that it is against the sun instead of against space, it appears darker than the surrounding background. | direction = horizontal | image1 = Solar prominence.ogv | width1 = 300 | alt1 = | caption1 = Solar prominence video clip. | image2 = September 13, 2012 Earth Eclipse.ogg | width2 = 300 | alt2 = | caption2 = An eclipse followed by an unusually large, dark prominence. | image3 = September 23, 2012 Solar Prominence.ogg | width3 = 300 | alt3 = | caption3 = On September 23, 2012 the sun emitted a large blast of plasma in the form of a prominence. }}

File:Monster Prominences with an Earth Eclipse (September 16, 2012).ogg
On September 16, 2012 the sun had a beautiful prominence that slowly twisted and dissipated over several hours.
File:Solar Prominence Dance - December 31, 2012.ogg
On the final day of 2012, the sun presented a beautiful twisting prominence that rose high into the corona for about 3 hours.


See also


Further reading