The Solar Orbiter mission, a joint effort of NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), has acquired the greatest solar prominence eruption yet witnessed in a single photograph, together with the whole solar disc.
This most recent incident occurred on February 15th and spanned millions of kilometres into space. The explosion was most likely caused by the sun’s side that was pointing away from Earth. As a result, the coronal mass ejection was aimed away from Earth.
“The prominence detected by Solar Orbiter is the largest event of its sort ever caught in a single field of view alongside the solar disc, bringing us new opportunities for understanding how occurrences like this relate to the solar disc for the first time. Simultaneously, SOHO may give complimentary views to much greater distances”, The ESA made the announcement in a statement.
The image was acquired by Solar Orbiter’s ‘Full Sun Imager’ (FSI) of the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI). FSI is designed to observe the whole solar disc, even during near Sun passes.
Solar prominences are huge formations of tangled magnetic field lines that sustain high concentrations of solar plasma above the Sun’s surface, often in the shape of arching loops. They are frequently related with coronal mass ejections, which can disrupt our technology and daily life if directed towards the Earth.
Other space observatories, such as the ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) satellite, commonly detect solar activity like this, but closer to the Sun or further away using an occulter, which filters off the brightness of the Sun’s disc to allow precise imaging of the corona itself. As a result, the prominence detected by Solar Orbiter is the greatest occurrence of its sort ever photographed in a single field of view beside the solar disc.