A photograph snapped by Eduardo Schaberger Poupeau, an astrophotographer located near Rafaela in Argentina has captured the moment a 60,000-mile-high wall of fire fell down on the surface of the Sun.
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The above image of the event was captured on March 9 and required the use of specialized camera equipment. Speaking to Spaceweather.com, Poupeau explained that the wall of hot plasma rose approximately 62,000 miles, which, for context, would be the same height as Earth stacked on top of itself eight times, then fell back down to the surface of the Sun.
Notably, this event is officially called a polar crown prominence (PCP), which is essentially loops of plasma being ejected from the surface of the Sun by contortions in the Sun’s magnetic field. Furthermore, since PCPs occur near the poles of the Sun, where there is a stronger magnetic field, these plasma ejections often are pulled back into the Sun. This process of ejection and then retraction has earned the nickname “plasma waterfalls“.
It should be noted a PCP event happens at extreme speeds, with the downward motion of the plasma being tracked at speeds of up to 22,370 mph, which bypasses the expert calculations on the possible speeds within the Sun’s magnetic field. This “impossible” speed still has researchers scratching their heads, with one study published in 2021 suggesting that PCP events happen in two phases, the initial slow ejection of the plasma and then a fast phase where the plasma is reaching its peak.
Researchers behind the study suggest that these two phases may be linked to the extreme speeds occurring when the plasma is falling back down. However, more research is needed to be done to confirm this and many more alternative theories. NASA explains that PCPs such as the one photographed above are quite common and happen almost every day. However, a photograph of such an event isn’t very common at all. In fact, it’s quite rare.
In other news, the company behind the next-generation spacesuits, poised to be what NASA astronauts will be wearing when they are walking around on the surface of the Moon. Images of the spacesuits were released via a press release revealing a stark new design that Axiom Space says is based on previous spacesuit designs that are currently in use on the International Space Station (ISS). If you are interested in reading more about the next-generation spacesuits or would like more space news in general, check out the link below.