A waterfall made of hot plasma rose above the solar surface

Plasma falls.


On March 9th, photographer Eduardo Schaberger Poupeau of Rafaela, Argentina- got the privilege of capturing a magnificent wall of plasma that rose some 100,000 km above the solar surface.

Solar astronomers have seen these structures on the sun many times before. They often appear in rings around the sun’s poles and are called ‘polar crown prominences.’

It appears like narrow streams of plasma at the top of the prominence constantly fall back to the bottom, much like a waterfall.

Photographer Schaberger told Spaceweather.com, “On my computer screen, it looked like hundreds of threads of plasma were dripping down a wall. It was a spectacle that left me speechless.”

Strangely, Poupeau’s “plasma threads” plummet more quickly than the surrounding magnetic forces appear to allow. Because it also occurs on a smaller scale in fusion reactors on Earth and undermines efforts to maintain an energy-producing reaction, nuclear engineers are interested in understanding how this phenomenon occurs. The study of these prominences might result in useful innovations.

The plasma is still falling today. Amateur astronomers with solar telescopes can see the structure on the sun’s southeastern limb.

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