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December 11: A Failed Eruption

     
  December 11: A Failed Eruption  
  A Failed Eruption  
 

 

Click on the above image for a movie of the event

 

 
 

As described on Day 6 of the Holiday count down calendar, prominences are large magnetic structures observed extending outward from the Sun's surface. Prominences can remain stable for long periods, supported and constrained by magnetic fields. However, many quiescent prominences do ultimately erupt in dramatic events. However, if the eruption does not have enough energy, the erupting prominence may not overcome gravity and /or be able to escape any constraining magnetic fields. Under these circumstances we observe a "failed prominence eruption".

The image above, and the linked movie, shows the signature of a failed eruption where we see an initial release of energy form the lower left active region, however instead of the plasma being released into interplanetary space, we see it interact with the surrounding field and flow to the active region located just above to the right. The plasma can be seen to flow in well defined directions following previously unseen magnetic field lines.

The linked movie (and the inset grey-scale image) shows a series of images made with SWAP and a technique called "running difference". Running difference images are created by subtracting the previous image from the current one. By doing this flows, movements and spontaneous changes in the Suns intensity are clearly seen. Enhancements or depletions in the intensity, since the previous image, are seen as white or black regions respectively. Areas which have little change are seen as grey. Running difference images are a useful tool for solar physicist, especially when looking for dynamic structures in a complicated image. Text