A twisted group of magnetic fields bursting from the sun

Magnetic flux rope evolution. Image: Wang et al., Nature Communications

High resolution images have been captured for the first time of a magnetic flux rope, a twisted group of magnetic fields which burst from the sun, followed by a solar flare.

Previously only low resolution images have been taken which hampered efforts to understand the evolution of the structures and how they may be involved in solar eruptions which can adversely effect space weather.

Haimin Wang of the New Jersey Institute of Technology and colleagues now report high-resolution observations of a flaring recorded by the 1.6 metre New Solar Telescope at Big Bear Solar Observatory.

They describe an S-shaped bundle of magnetic fields from which a set of loops peel off and grow upward into a multi-stranded flux rope within two minutes.

Two flare ribbons also appear at the point where the rope joins the solar atmosphere.

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