Polar Crown Prominences

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Recently, an Argentina-based astronomer captured a structure that looked like a wall of plasma on the surface of the sun.

About Polar Crown Prominences (PCP):

  • These are similar to normal solar prominences, which are loops of plasma, or ionized gas, that is ejected from the solar surface by magnetic fields.
  • They occur near the sun's magnetic poles at latitudes between 60 and 70 degrees North and South.
  • Due to the much stronger magnetic fields near the poles they collapse back towards the sun.
  • This collapse back to the sun has earned them the nickname "plasma waterfalls."

What is a solar prominence?

  • It is a large, bright feature extending outward from the Sun's surface.
  • These are anchored to the Sun's surface in the photosphere, and extend outwards into the Sun's hot outer atmosphere, called the corona.
  • It forms over timescales of about a day, and stable prominences may persist in the corona for several months, looping hundreds of thousands of miles into space.
  • The red-glowing looped material is plasma, a hot gas comprised of electrically charged hydrogen and helium.
  • This plasma flows along a tangled and twisted structure of magnetic fields generated by the sun’s internal dynamo.
  • An erupting prominence occurs when such a structure becomes unstable and bursts outward, releasing the plasma.


Q1) What is a Solar flare?

A solar flare is a sudden and intense burst of radiation and energy that is released from the sun's surface. This burst of energy is typically accompanied by a coronal mass ejection (CME), which is a massive expulsion of plasma and magnetic fields from the sun's corona. 

Source: Astrophotographer Captures 60,000-Mile-Tall 'Wall Of Plasma' On The Sun