Sun hurls cloud of ‘swirling debris’ into space as star’s southern hemisphere ‘explodes’

Earth’s ‘magnetic song’ captured during solar storm

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Space weather forecasters have warned of a large eruption on the Sun’s southern hemisphere on the weekend. Solar observation satellites have recorded a large magnetic filament lashing out from the star, sending a cloud of debris out into space. Filaments, also known as solar prominences, are large concentrations of plasma – a soup of free-flowing charged particles – that are typically cooler and denser than the surrounding solar atmosphere.

These filaments can sometimes erupt when they become unstable, hurtling a snake-like stream of material out into space.

The US space agency NASA explained: “Prominences are anchored to the Sun’s surface in the photosphere, and extend outwards into the Sun’s hot outer atmosphere, called the corona.

“A prominence forms over timescales of about a day, and stable prominences may persist in the corona for several months, looping hundreds of thousands of miles into space.

“Scientists are still researching how and why prominences are formed.”

One such filament erupted from the Sun on Sunday, according to the website SpaceWeather.com.

Because erupting filaments are associated with the release of charged material and so-called coronal mass ejection (CMEs) they may sometimes lead to geomagnetic unrest (solar storms) in Earth’s magnetosphere.

An erupting solar filament earlier this month was linked to an escaping CME, which space weather forecasters said was poised to possibly strike the planet.

Depending on their severity, solar storms can disrupt satellite operations, block out communications or even trigger widespread power blackouts.

Observatory captures INTENSE solar storm

Experts at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are, consequently, tracking the material that erupted from the Sun on Sunday.

And the good news is the cloud of debris will likely miss our planet.

Space Weather said on Monday: “Yesterday, December 5, a magnetic filament in the Sun’s southern hemisphere exploded.

“The swirling debris will probably sail well south of our planet.

“NOAA analysts are running computer models now to confirm the miss. Stay tuned.”

As of Monday evening, the US Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC), which is part of NOAA, does not expect any geomagnetic unrest.

The official three-day forecast reads: “No G1 (Minor) or greater geomagnetic storms are expected.

“No significant transient or recurrent solar wind features are forecast.”

In 2013, NASA satellites recorded an erupting filament that measured an impressive 200,000 miles long.

For comparison, the Earth’s circumference is estimated to be just under 25,000 miles.

As the filament erupted, it created a spectacular “canyon of fire” in the Sun’s corona.

NASA said: “In reality, the sun is not made of fire, but of something called plasma: particles so hot that their electrons have boiled off, creating a charged gas that is interwoven with magnetic fields.”

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