An astronomer has shot an incredible photo of the Sun shooting a 1.6 million mile plasma plume. Here are details.
Our Sun is an interesting celestrial object in the solar system. Other than holding together its surrounding planets, the Sun is a source of energy for Earth and its life as we know. However, the Sun isn’t just a massive gas and light ball – things happen on it and they could vanish us from existence! A recent solar activity led to a massive coronal ejection that was measured at 1.6 million miles in length. Yes, over a million miles! And one astronomer captured it and shared it with the world.
The image was captured on September 24 by professional astrophotographer Andrew McCarthy, and was shared on Reddit on September 25 in the subreddit r/space. The photo is essentially a time-lapse image with false colour composite that stacks thousands of images over a six-hour period. The, which measures 800GB, combined all images to show the CME in great details.
The photo shows the Sun’s surface and CME in orange, which in reality looks pinkish red, and is known as hydrogen-alpha light. Due to the short exposure time of the images, it all appeared white and McCarthy had to add the orange colour to highlight the CME better. That said, the white glow you see around the Sun is the original white light as he did not add orange colour there.
Sun shoots mega CME into space
One of the other good things about this was the direction of the CME, which was away from Earth. The solar storm was essentially a small G-1 class storm, which is the lowest one as classified by NOAA. Its direction away from Earth saved us from another geomagnetic storm.
Our Sun has entered a period of increased solar activity, which is called the solar maximum. During this period, we will continue to see lots of CMEs and other solar activities on its surface. Geomagnetic storms have hence, become common these days. Note that the solar maximum lasts for a period of seven years. Hence, astronomers have more opportunities to shoot beautiful pictures and study the Sun at the same time.
mcCarthy even warns that the plasma plumes could continue to get larger with each passing year. “We’ll see more of these as we head further into solar maximum. The plasma plumes are also likely to get “progressively larger,” he said.