Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2009 March 15
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

A Prominent Solar Prominence from SOHO
Credit: SOHO - EIT Consortium, ESA, NASA

Explanation: What's happened to our Sun? It was sporting a spectacular -- but not very unusual -- solar prominence. A solar prominence is a cloud of solar gas held above the Sun's surface by the Sun's magnetic field. In 2004, NASA's Sun-orbiting SOHO spacecraft imaged an impressively large prominence hovering over the surface, pictured above. The Earth would easily fit under the hovering curtain of hot gas. A quiescent prominence typically lasts about a month, and may erupt in a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) expelling hot gas into the Solar System. Although somehow related to the Sun's changing magnetic field, the energy mechanism that creates and sustains a Solar prominence is still a topic of research.

Tomorrow's picture: smaismrmilmepoetaleumibunenugttauiras

< | Archive | Index | Search | Calendar | RSS | Education | About APOD | Discuss | >

Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
NASA Web Privacy Policy and Important Notices
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.