In the image and video above, the upper one of a pair of new, solar active regions rotated into view of SDO and offered a beautiful profile view of cascading loops spiraling above it (Jan. 15 – 16, 2012) following a solar flare eruption. These loop structures are made of superheated plasma, just one of which is the size of several Earths. With its ability to capture the Sun in amazing detail, SDO observed it all in extreme ultraviolet light. This particular video clip used an image every five minutes to present the motion. Note all of the other spurts and minor bursts from both regions during almost two days.
The sun erupted late on January 22, 2012, with an M8.7 class flare, an earth-directed coronal mass ejection (CME), and a burst of fast moving, highly energetic protons known as a “solar energetic particle” event. The latter has caused the strongest solar radiation storm since September 2005, according to NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center.
NASA’s Goddard Space Weather Center’s models predict that the CME is moving at almost 1,400 miles per second, and could reach Earth’s magnetosphere – the magnetic envelope that surrounds Earth — as early as Jan 24 at 9 AM ET (plus or minus 7 hours). This has the potential to provide good auroral displays, possibly at lower latitudes than normal.
The Solar Heliospheric Observatory captured the coronal mass ejection (CME) in this video footage (which shows the sun’s activity from January 19 to January 23). The end of the movie shows the interference caused by the onslaught of fast, energetic solar particles emitted from the sun.
Image, Video, and Text Credit: NASA/GSFC/SOHO/SDO