Gorgeous GIF Captures the Sun Puffing Plasma

Last year, a trio of sun-gazers — SOHO, STEREO and Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) — captured unusual eruptions of plasma being "puffed" from the sun's corona. The GIF comes from SDO and shows the jets that caused the puffs.

The three colors in the above image — red, green and blue — corresponded to three coronal temperature regimes, ranging from ~0.8Mk to 2MK.

Today, Nathalia Alzate presented on the event, which lasted three days starting on January 17, 2013, at the National Astronomy Meeting 2014 in Portsmouth. Explained Alzate:

Looking at the corona in Extreme UltraViolet light we see the source of the puffs is a series of energetic jets and related flares. The jets are localized, catastrophic releases of energy that spew material out from the Sun into space. These rapid changes in the magnetic field cause flares, which release a huge amount of energy in a very short time in the form of super-heated plasma, high-energy radiation and radio bursts. The big, slow structure is reluctant to erupt, and does not begin to smoothly propagate outwards until several jets have occurred.

[Red Orbit]