XRT Picture of the Week (XPOW)

XRT Picture of the Week (XPOW)

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2012 May 30

Click animation for .mov and here for AIA movie.
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Wandering Field Lines During Filament Eruption

On April 5th, XRT observed this interesting event while tracking NOAA active region 11451. The region had previously produced some of the largest events of the current solar cycle but was in a decay phase during this second appearance on the earthward face of the Sun. Though it's not obvious from these XRT images alone, inspection of AIA observations shows that what we see wandering into XRT's field of view is the left side of a filament eruption that lifted off above the adjacent active region 11450. Filaments (or prominences when they poke out beyond the limb) are structures anchored in the photosphere that extend out into the corona, supported by magnetic forces, despite being composed of material much cooler the typical coronal temperatures. They erupt when the surrounding magnetic field becomes unstable, stressing the field lines of the filament somewhat like a rubber band being stretched and twisted until it snaps. There is still much to be learned about the physics of these eruptions, which is an area of very active research.

Keywords: Filament, CME
Filters: Be_thin

(Prepared by Patrick McCauley)

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