Tucked among the first images of the sun from NASA's new Solar Dynamics Observatory released Wednesday was this stunning shot of a massive prominence lifting off the solar surface.

The prominence occurred on March 30, as the Solar Dynamics Observatory was bringing its cameras online. NASA released the first sun images from the new solar observatory on Wednesday.

A solar prominence is a large, bright feature ? often shaped like a loop ? that extends outward from the surface of the sun. These loops are magnetic fields full of hot gas trapped inside. Eruptive prominences can form and rise off of the sun in mere minutes, while other more stable prominences can last hours and even days.

In some cases, prominences can break apart and give rise to coronal mass ejections, which are ejections of gas and charged particles.

The Solar Dynamics Observatory probe was launched Feb. 11 to peer deep into the layers of the sun, monitor solar storms and investigate the mysteries of the sun's inner workings.