NASA has compiled a new video showing a 200,000-mile-long “fire” as it rips across the surface of the sun in dramatic fashion.
The eruption is actually a magnetic filament of solar material that erupted across the atmosphere of the sun back in September. The resulting corona appears to be a giant canyon of flames.
NASA physicist David Hathaway explained in an interview with Space Weather that a magnetic filament actually contains cool, dense gas that is suspended above the surface of the sun.
"When you look down on top of them they appear dark because the gas inside is cool compared to the hot photosphere below,” Hathaway said. “But when we see a filament in profile against the dark sky it looks like a giant glowing loop -- these are called prominences and they can be spectacular."
As NASA explained on their Goddard Space Flight Center YouTube page, “In reality, the sun is not made of fire, but of something called plasma: particles so hot that their electrons have boiled off, creating a charged gas that is interwoven with magnetic fields.”
A team of visualizers at Goddard combined two days worth of satellite data originally captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory to create the 2:16 clip. They even added some hypnotic electronic music for anyone who might be taking an early voyage into the weekend.
According to the Goddard Space Flight Center, the red images in the clip represent plasma temperatures of 90,000° F, while the yellow images rise up to 1,000,000° F. Hottest of all are the brown images, which are 1,800,000° F and create the most visible fire like images.
“By comparing this with the other colors, one sees that the two swirling ribbons moving farther away from each other are, in fact, the footprints of the giant magnetic field loops, which are growing and expanding as the filament pulls them upward.”