New images coming in from the SDO (Solar Dynamics Observatory) of the sun this week have boggled a few imaginations. This new image shows what appears to be a planet-sized mysterious orb hovering above the surface of the sun, joined by an umbilical of sorts. After a few moments it appears to jettison suddenly off into space.
That is, at least, what UFOers and purveyors of Youtube are claiming. Not to discount those who have this passion, this time there is a scientific explanation for this newly observed phenomenon. According to NASA scientists, this strange planetoid and tether are actually related to a little-understood but frequently observed type of solar activity called a “prominence.” The way it is situated beneath another solar feature gives it the other-worldly appearance.
These prominences form loops that can reach thousands of miles out into space. When one extends the way this one did, it usually means it’s about to erupt. This is exactly what happened when the “planetoid” appears to launch into space.
What caused the strange planetoid appearance? The filament seen extending from the surface of the sun is actually a plasma tunnel called a filament tunnel. Because of the angle of its “spout” it appears as a spherical object. Basically, you’re looking straight down into it. These features aren’t uncommon.
So, if you’re like me when I first saw the video, you can put your lower jaw back into its original position and relax into a more comfortable sensation of awe and curiosity. I can hardly wait to see what new things are revealed by the SDO next.
A coronal mass ejection captured by the SOHO observatory on March 12.
CREDIT: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
For more details, visit the related article at Space.com.
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