Helluva burp!

The ESA/NASA Solar Orbiter spacecraft has captured the largest solar prominence eruption ever observed in a single image together with the full solar disc.

Solar prominences are large structures of tangled magnetic field lines that keep dense concentrations of solar plasma suspended above the Sun’s surface, sometimes taking the form of arching loops. They are often associated with coronal mass ejections, which if directed towards Earth, can wreak havoc with our technology and everyday lives.

This latest event took place on February 15, 2022, and extended millions of kilometers into space. The coronal mass ejection was not directed at Earth. In fact, it is traveling away from us. There is no signature of the eruption on the solar disc facing the spacecraft – which is currently approaching the Earth-Sun line – meaning that it must have originated from the side of the Sun facing away from us.

Phew!