Solar Orbiter captures massive prominence eruption, extending millions of kilometers into space

The sun has been very busy throughout February this year, and it is experiencing a series of eruptions, including the most dramatic eruption of a prominence captured by Solar Orbiter on February 15, the most powerful of the X-class flare category. Fortunately, the eruption was not pointed at Earth, but scientists warn that as the active area on the sun’s surface is about to face Earth, it is bound to see many significant flares.

A solar prominence is a fiery flow of tens of thousands of kilometers long above the surface of the sun’s magnetic field. It usually appears as a huge annular arch structure, which can last for hours, days, or even weeks, and can further trigger millions of miles into space. kilometer coronal mass ejection (CME).

According to the European Space Agency (ESA), the EUV full-Sun and high-resolution Imager (EUI) of the Solar Orbiter (SolO), jointly developed by ESA and NASA, was released on 2 The prominence was clearly observed on the other side of the sun on March 15, extending 5 times the radius of the sun, the largest prominence eruption ever observed in a single image, and the 2nd largest eruption since September 2017 Scale of the active region on the far side of the sun.

Luckily for us on Earth, the eruption occurred on the other side of the sun on February 15, but ESA and NASA predict that geomagnetic storms are likely in the coming days as active areas on the sun’s surface gradually turn towards us .

From the end of January to the beginning of February, it took several days for the material ejected by an M-class flare to reach the earth, triggering a mild geomagnetic storm that caused the crash of 40 Starlink satellites that SpaceX just launched. According to the SpaceWeatherLive website, which tracks solar activity, the entire sun is February erupted every day and also included 3 M-class flares (the second most intense): M1.4 on February 12, M1 on February 14, and M1.3 on February 15.

In addition to Solar Orbiter, other space missions are also watching the sun. For example, Solar Orbiter will soon cooperate with Parker Solar Probe to conduct joint observations during the latter’s arrival at perihelion.