'Graceful Eruption' on Sun Revealed in Stunning Photo

Solar Prominence March 16, 2013
A solar prominence began to bow out and the broke apart in a graceful, floating style in a little less than four hours on March 16, 2013. (Image credit: Solar Dynamics Observatory/NASA)

A NASA spacecraft that constantly watches the sun has captured an amazing view of a solar eruption that exploded from the star's surface this month.

The new image, which NASA featured as its image of the day today (March 28), shows the solar prominence — a delicate combination of super-hot plasma and magnetic fields — just after it snapped, sending plumes of material out into space.

NASA scientists dubbed the sun storm a "Graceful Eruption." It occurred on March 16 and was captured by the space agency's Solar Dynamics Observatory, which records spectacular views of the sun in high definition.

"A solar prominence began to bow out and broke apart in a graceful, floating style in a little less than four hours," NASA officials explained in an image description. "The sequence was captured in extreme ultraviolet light. A large cloud of particles appeared to hover further out above the surface before it faded away."

The SDO spacecraft also captured a dazzling video of the graceful solar eruption

The sun is currently in an active phase of its 11-year solar cycle and is expected to reach peak activity this year. The current solar weather cycle is known as Solar Cycle 24.

NASA's SDO spacecraft is one of several observatories that monitor the sun's activity and solar weather events.

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at Space.com and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.