Astronomers using the ESA/NASA Solar Orbiter and the NASA/ESA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft have captured the largest solar prominence eruption ever observed in a single image together with the full solar disk.
“Solar prominences are large structures of tangled magnetic field lines that keep dense concentrations of solar plasma suspended above the Sun’s surface, sometimes taking the form of arching loops,” ESA astronomers said.
“They are often associated with coronal mass ejections, which if directed towards Earth, can wreak havoc with our technology and everyday lives.”
This latest solar prominence eruption occurred on February 15, 2022, and extended millions of km into space.
“The coronal mass ejection was not directed at Earth. In fact, it is traveling away from us,” the researchers noted.
“There is no signature of the eruption on the solar disk facing spacecraft, meaning that it must have originated from the side of the Sun facing away from us.”
The February 15 eruption was observed by the Full Sun Imager (FSI) of the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) onboard the ESA/NASA Solar Orbiter.
“FSI is designed to look at the full solar disk even during close passages of the Sun, such as during the upcoming perihelion passage next month,” the scientists said.
“At closest approach on March 26, 2022, which will see the spacecraft pass within about 0.3 times the Sun-Earth distance, the Sun will fill a much larger portion of the telescope’s field of view.”
“Right now, there is still a lot of ‘viewing margin’ around the disk, enabling stunning detail to be captured by FSI out to about 3.5 million km, equivalent to five times the radius of the Sun.”
The February 15 event was also observed by the Large Angle and Spectrometric COronagraph (LASCO) instrument onboard the ESA/NASA SOHO satellite.
“Other space telescopes such as SOHO frequently see solar activity like this, but either closer to the Sun, or further out by means of an occulter, which blocks out the glare of the Sun’s disk to enable detailed imagery of the corona itself,” the astronomers said.
“Thus, the prominence observed by Solar Orbiter is the largest ever event of its kind to be captured in a single field of view together with the solar disk, opening up new possibilities to see how events like these connect to the solar disk for the first time.”
Source link: https://www.sci.news/astronomy/giant-solar-prominence-eruption-10571.html