BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Science/Nature  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Tuesday, 2 July, 2002, 09:10 GMT 10:10 UK
Sun's spectacular show
Enlarge image Click here to enlarge image
The Sun is experiencing a period of increased activity


There has been a spectacular eruption from the Sun's surface.

It occurred at 1319 GMT on Monday and was imaged by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, which sits in space at a gravitational balance point between our star and Earth.

The giant prominence at the bottom left of the image is more than 30 times the Earth's diameter. Such prominences are not uncommon on our star.

If they are directed towards the Earth, they can lead to dramatic lights in Northern and Southern polar skies and also radio and communications interference. Researchers say that this particular explosion was directed away from Earth.

Hot but faded

The prominences are gigantic loops of magnetic fields that emerge from below the Sun's surface. As they rise, they become filled with trapped, superhot gas that is heated to many millions of degrees.

Soho, Esa
Soho is a US/European satellite designed to study the Sun
Sometimes, as the magnetic fields become twisted and unstable, the magnetic energy collapses and explosively heats vast quantities of gas which then bursts and rises off the Sun in just a few minutes or hours.

The image taken by the Soho satellite is in the spectral line of singly ionised helium (He II) in the extreme ultraviolet region of the spectrum.

The material in the eruptive prominence is at temperatures of 60,000-80,000 Kelvin, which although extremely hot is still much cooler than the surrounding corona, or outer atmosphere, which is typically at temperatures above one million K.

Researchers followed the eruption as it moved out in space and faded.

See also:

24 May 02 | Science/Nature
26 Oct 01 | Science/Nature
30 Mar 01 | Science/Nature
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Science/Nature stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Science/Nature stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes