Series of images of the Sun, 1996.
© National Aeronautics & Space Administration / Science & Society
The Solar & Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), a joint project of the European Space Agency and NASA (National aeronautics & Space Administration), took this sequence of images with the Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope. At lower left is an 'eruptive prominence' or blob of 33,315 C gas measuring over 128,747 km (80,000 miles) long, travelling at more than 24,140 kph (15,000 mph). These eruptions occur when cool dense plasma or ionised gas escapes from the low-level magnetic fields in the Sun's atmosphere. The eruptions sometimes disrupt power and communications. With SOHO, scientists hope to observe these events more often and perhaps get a better idea of how they occur. SOHO observed these events during the minimum phase of the Sun's 11-year activity cycle.