Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Sun Briefly Built An 'Eiffel Tower' Larger Than Our Whole Planet

Eiffel Prominence

Eiffel Prominence

A brief solar prominence on the sun. Click the magnifying glass to enlarge.

Apparently the sun has been taking notes on the work of architect Gustave Eiffel.

Yesterday, photographer Göran Strand noticed an odd shape coming off the sun as he was photographing it in his backyard in Sweden:

Though the solar copy bore an uncanny resemblance to the tower in France, this particular shape was a solar prominence, a loop of ionized gas that projects out from the sun's surface. Fittingly, the first observation of a solar prominence was made by a Swedish astronomer in 1733.

Solar prominences can be amazing displays and are usually massive. As you can see from the scale, this prominence was several times larger than the earth.

To create the image you see above, Strand took over 1000 photos of the sun and stacked the best 300 together to get the clear shot of the prominence. In order to get the details of the sun (instead of being blinded by looking at the sun through a telescope), photographers and astronomers use filters including a special kind called hydrogen alpha filters to get a richer view of the solar surface, which is mostly burning hydrogen. The filter works by blocking out most other wavelengths of light, only allowing a small amount of the light emitted by burning hydrogen to shine through.

In addition to Twitter, you can see more of Strand's work on his website, Instagram, and Facebook.

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