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NASA's SDO Sees Massive Filament Erupt on Sun
09.04.12
 
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A long filament erupted on the sun on August 31, 2012, shown here in a movie captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) from noon EDT to 1:45 a.m. the next morning. The filament lies in the lower left corner of the sun. The movie shows light at 304 Angstroms and 171 Angstroms, both of which help scientists observe the sun's atmosphere, or corona. Following SDO's view are two taken by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) and the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) showing the associated coronal mass ejection (CME). Credit: NASA/SDO/AIA, NASA/STEREO, SOHO (ESA & NASA)

On August 31, 2012 a long filament of solar material that had been hovering in the sun's atmosphere, the corona, erupted out into space at 4:36 p.m. EDT. The coronal mass ejection, or CME, traveled at over 900 miles per second. The CME did not travel directly toward Earth, but did connect with Earth's magnetic environment, or magnetosphere, with a glancing blow. causing aurora to appear on the night of Monday, September 3.

Swirls of green and red appear in an aurora over Whitehorse, Yukon on the night of September 3, 2012. › View larger
Swirls of green and red appear in an aurora over Whitehorse, Yukon on the night of September 3, 2012. The aurora was due to the interaction of a coronal mass ejection (CME) from the sun with Earth's magnetosphere. The CME left the sun on August 31 and arrived on September 3. Image Courtesy of David Cartier, Sr.



What is a filament?

For answers to this and other space weather questions, please visit the Spaceweather Frequently Asked Questions page.

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Four images of a filament on the sun from August 31, 2012 are shown here in various wavelengths of light as captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). › View larger
Four images of a filament on the sun from August 31, 2012 are shown here in various wavelengths of light as captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). Starting from the upper left and going clockwise they represent light in the: 335, 171, 131 and 304 Angstrom wavelengths. Since each wavelength of light generally corresponds to solar material at a particular temperature, scientists can compare images like this to observe how the material moves during an eruption. Credit: NASA/SDO/AIA/GSFC


 
 
Karen C. Fox
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD