May 22, 2024

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NASA detects stunning pink 'flames' emerging from behind a total solar eclipse – what are they?

NASA detects stunning pink 'flames' emerging from behind a total solar eclipse – what are they?

A NASA photographer captured stunning images that appear to show majestic fuchsia-pink flames exploding from behind the solar eclipse.

Snapper Keegan Barber captured the total eclipse as the moon blotted out the sun and plunged Dallas, Texas into darkness on April 8, 2024.

The images show huge pink towers of plasma pulsing from the Sun's surface into its second atmosphere, the chromosphere, and the outer solar corona.

These planet-sized pink flames are called “solar prominences” — rings of anchored plasma, or superheated electrically charged gas — that can persist for months at a time on the Sun's surface.

Both the Sun's faint outer layers, the atmosphere and the corona, where these solar prominences flow are usually drowned out by the full force of the Sun's brightness but were visible to professional and amateur astronomers alike during last week's eclipse.

NASA photographer Keegan Barber captured several bright pink “solar anomalies” during the eclipse as the sun hung about 93 million miles above Dallas, Texas on April 8, 2024 (above).

A solar prominence differs from a flare in that pinned rings of plasma, or electrically charged gas, can persist for months at a time on the surface of the Sun

A solar prominence differs from a flare in that pinned rings of plasma, or electrically charged gas, can persist for months at a time on the surface of the Sun

Solar prominences are also massive and can be ten times the diameter of Earth or more

Solar prominences are also massive and can be ten times the diameter of Earth or more

Barber, who also works as an image researcher at NASA, was able to capture several high-resolution shots of the sun's appearance, which was extraordinarily visible thanks to the moon, which obscured everything except the sun's white corona and pink chromosphere.

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But even casual spectators who safely watch the eclipse from behind eclipse glasses and film the event with nothing more private than a phone camera can catch a glimpse of the rose-red constellations.

“I don't know what these red things actually are, but they were visible to the naked eye,” one Reddit user posted on the page r/space subreddit, “And they appear very clearly on camera.”

Solar prominences derive their reddish-pink color from the transformation of hydrogen gas in the Sun into plasma, because elemental hydrogen emits a reddish light when heated to high temperatures.

It has long been known that heating different chemical elements produces specific colors, a scientific fact used in the fireworks industry, in fact:

For example, copper metal in fireworks gives off flares of blue light, while barium is known to produce bright green colors, and sodium explodes bright yellow.

A NASA image researcher captured several high-resolution shots of these solar prominences, which were extraordinarily visible thanks to the Moon, which obscured everything except the Sun's white corona and its reddish-pink atmosphere.

A NASA image researcher captured several high-resolution shots of these solar prominences, which were extraordinarily visible thanks to the Moon, which obscured everything except the Sun's white corona and its reddish-pink atmosphere.

One Reddit poster did some calculations, based on the Sun's diameter, to find that this solar prominence is about five times the length of Earth.  And they said:

One Reddit poster did some calculations, based on the Sun's diameter, to find that this solar prominence is about five times the length of Earth. “This bulge at the bottom is about 17.5 pixels long, or 44,500 miles high,” they said.

The curved and pointed shapes of each protrusion are derived from the magnetic fields surrounding them that trap the flow of electrically charged hydrogen plasma within them, like the flow of metal balls in a magnetic tube.

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Over the course of its first day or so of existence, the heliopause begins as a smaller ring closer to the Sun's surface, expanding or unfolding like a loose appearance of thread on a sweater, extending further into the Sun's upper atmosphere.

A giant nuclear fusion reaction bound in space by its own gravity. The Sun is mostly made of plasma, an electrified gas of electrons and ions.

The electrified flow of that plasma, according to astronomers, is what leads to the powerful magnifying pulses that sometimes emerge from the Sun.

When magnetic rings are launched into space, huge streams of plasma are attracted to fill them, creating prominences that can last for weeks or months.

While the bright arcs of these solar prominences often collapse, or “bleed” gas through their magnetic field lines toward the Sun, there are cases in which they become unstable and their energy is released into space.

“At the time of the eclipse, the Sun was close to solar maximum, a period of increased activity that occurs about every 11 years when the Sun’s magnetic field flips,” the NASA geophysics writer said. Lindsay Dorman He said.

She noted that “the sun's activity was very different during the total solar eclipse in 2017.” “At that time, it was approaching the solar minimum.”

Images taken during the 2017 eclipse, during a period of less intense solar energy and solar activity during this periodic low tide, showed less entanglement and lower currents from magnetic blasts and plasma from the Sun.

Dorman said that “bursts” such as these solar prominences were “confined to the Sun's equatorial region” in 2017.

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