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The slideshow above contains four images, each separated by 12 hours, that surround a series of filament eruptions back in February 2012. The first eruption occurs in upper left, just after the initial image in the series. Filaments are long channels of cool plasma that are anchored in the photosphere and buoyed by magnetic forces into the corona, where temperatures are typically much higher. They erupt (or collapse inward) when the surrounding magnetic field becomes unstable, stressing the filament until it snaps like a rubber band that's been contorted too far. A wave of magnetic reconnection events follow, successively creating new loops that give the illusion of one massive, expanding structure. This is what's so apparent in the upper-left of the second and third images, and the final image reveals the same thing in the lower-left for a second eruption. When multiple filaments destabilize in succession, they're called "sympathetic" eruptions. Sympathetic eruptions are important to our understanding of the Sun's magnetic field because they reveal the interconnectedness of distant regions that might not otherwise seem to affect one another.
Click here for an AIA/193 movie of the event.
[Filters: Ti-poly & Be-thin]