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.

January 27, 1997
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
 the highest resolution version available.

A Prominent Solar Prominence
Credit: Big Bear Observatory, Caltech

Explanation: One of the most spectacular solar sights is a prominence. A solar prominence is a cloud of solar gas held above the Sun's surface by the Sun's magnetic field. The Earth would easily fit under one of the loops of the prominence shown in the above picture. 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 thought by many to be related to the magnetic field, the energy mechanism behind a Solar prominence is still unknown.

Tomorrow's picture: Open Cluster M50

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.