This past January, scientists witnessed a series of strange solar eruptions and, lucky for us, they caught it all in the fantastic image above, which we first saw on Colossal.
Solar scientist Nathalia Alzatethe of the University of Aberystwyth in Wales discussed the source of the eruptions at the 2014 Royal Astronomical Society’s National Astronomy Meeting in Portsmouth, England at the end of last month.
The photo above is a colorized composite image taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. It is made up of photos taken in several different wavelengths and by different satellites at different angles.
In it, you can see the sun’s outer magnetized atmosphere, which extends millions of miles into space, according to the observatory’s Facebook page. The scientists observed the puffs exploding once every three hours, with a giant eruption of material released every 12 hours apparently caused by the smaller puffs, they wrote.
Alzate explained the source of the jets on the the observatory’s facebook page.:
The jets are localised, catastrophic releases of energy that spew material out from the sun into space. These rapid changes in the magnetic field cause flares, which release a huge amount of energy in a very short time in the form of super-heated plasma, high-energy radiation and radio bursts. The big, slow structure is reluctant to erupt, and does not begin to smoothly propagate outwards until several jets have occurred.
Alzate said that while the jets appear to be the cause of the giant slow eruption, it is unclear how they cause it. She suggested the jets could either create shock waves or “magnetic reconfiguration” that could trigger the slow eruption.
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