A gigantic plasma loop protrudes from the sun in this magnificent amateur astronomy image.
Astrophotographer JP Brahic captured this photo from France on July 19, 2012.
A solar loop, also known as a coronal loop, occurs when a magnetic flux is fixed at both ends of the circle. These large, unstable loops can arise from solar eruptions and are often seen near sunspots.
They can sit on the edge of the sun for hours, sometimes even days moving slowly in a circular motion. Strong solar flares aimed at Earth can disrupt satellites and power grids, as well as pose a hazard to astronauts on spacecraft.
Editor's note: If you have an amazing sun or night sky observing photo you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at email@example.com.