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2015 September 29

interaction Wishbone

Click on the region to discover what lies below this structure.

A Solar Prominence with a Chewy Nougat

While bright loops and dark holes are commonly seen in X-ray images of the sun, other shapes inspire pareidolia but the cause of these shapes are not obvious.

When I first looked at the above thin_Be image, I noted an interesting wishbone shape. XRT observes the hottest parts of the sun's atmosphere and this shape suggests there is a long hot channel embedded in a region with little to no x-rays. There are no coronal holes (black regions) or active regions (bright white regions) anywhere near this structure.

To find out what could cause this, I downloaded an H-alpha (visible red light) image taken at the Cerro Tololo Observatory as part of the GONG network. I used the edge of the sun to align the images and discovered the cause of the long bright channel is a solar prominence.

Solar prominences are long, linear structures composed of cool plasma that is suspended in the atmosphere. They are typically embedded in dark tubes but sometimes, these tubes have a bright x-ray core that solar scientists have dubbed the chewy nougat.

Just like a snickers bar, solar prominences contain a lot of calories making for spectacular coronal mass ejections that lead to beautiful aurora.

Keywords: Filament, Prominence
Filters: Be_thin

(Prepared by Patricia Jibben)

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