Hey Sun, Why So Serious?

By Attila Nagy on at

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured a huge filament on the unhappy face of our Sun on February 10th. The scary fissure, which looks like a grimace on the surface of the star, is actually an enormous swathe of colder material hovering in the sun's atmosphere.

Scientists at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center explain:

SDO shows colder material as dark and hotter material as light, so the line is, in fact, an enormous swatch of colder material hovering in the sun's atmosphere, the corona. Stretched out, that line – or solar filament as scientists call it – would be more than 533,000 miles long. That is longer than 67 Earths lined up in a row. Filaments can float sedately for days before disappearing. Sometimes they also erupt out into space, releasing solar material in a shower that either rains back down or escapes out into space, becoming a moving cloud known as a coronal mass ejection, or CME.

Here is the full image; click on it and expand it to fill your screen: