International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries

What is Solar Prominence?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Solar Prominence

Mains level: Not Much


Recently, the sun puzzled many scientists with a large prominence near its north pole.

What is Solar Prominence?

  • A solar prominence (also known as a filament when viewed against the solar disk) is a large, bright feature extending outward from the Sun’s surface.
  • 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.

How are they formed?

  • Scientists are still researching how and why prominences are formed.
  • The red-glowing looped material is plasma, a hot gas comprised of electrically charged hydrogen and helium.
  • The prominence plasma flows along a tangled and twisted structure of magnetic fields generated by the sun’s internal dynamo.
  • An erupting prominence occurs when such a structure becomes unstable and bursts outward, releasing the plasma.


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