A Prominence Breaks Free (SOHO Pick of the Week – May 20, 2011)

An Erupting Prominence Observed in 304 Angstrom Light with STEREO Ahead

The STEREO (Ahead) spacecraft observed as a photogenic, solar prominence erupted and broke out into space over about 18-hour period (May 13, 2011). Prominences, notoriously unstable structures, are cooler clouds of gas that float above the Sun’s surface, tethered there by magnetic forces. They often erupt and race into space like this one did. The Sun here is being observed in extreme UV light.

credit: SOHO, STEREO, Steele Hill