What is a Solar Prominence?

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What is a Solar Prominence? Blog Image


Scientists recently observed a large prominence near Sun’s north pole.

About Solar prominence:

  • What is it? Large, loop-like structures on the edge of the solar disk sometimes stand out brightly against the dark background of space. These enormous structures are called solar prominences.
  • Prominences are anchored to the Sun's surface in the photosphere, and extend outwards into the Sun's hot outer atmosphere, called the corona
  • They are much cooler and denser than the surrounding plasma in the Sun's corona.
  • Prominences are shaped by the Sun's complex magnetic field, often forming loops with each end anchored to the Sun's surface.
  • Prominences are enormous, extending out for many thousands of kilometers.
  • They can last for several days or up to several months.
  • Some prominences erupt and break apart, giving rise to coronal mass ejections (CMEs).


What are Solar Filaments?

  • Sometimes prominences are observed against the bright background of the Sun itself, instead of at the edge of the Sun's disk. 
  • These prominences appear dark compared to the bright background of the Sun and are called solar filaments.


What are Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs)?

  • CMEs are large expulsions of plasma and magnetic field from the Sun’s corona that propagates outward into interplanetary space.
  • The blast of a CME carries about a billion tons of material out from the Sun at very high speeds of hundreds of kilometers per second.
  • They can cause geomagnetic storms on Earth that can have significant impact on both ground- and space-based technological systems.


Q1)  What are geomagnetic storms?

A geomagnetic storm is a major disturbance of Earth's magnetosphere that occurs when there is a very efficient exchange of energy from the solar wind into the space environment surrounding Earth. These storms result from variations in the solar wind that produces major changes in the currents, plasmas, and fields in Earth’s magnetosphere

Source: Something funky just happened near the sun’s north pole — why it matters