January 19, 2016 12:22 pm

WATCH: Sun puts on spectacular show

NASA's SDO captures cascading magnetic arches


NASA has released a video of the sun in action.

The video, captured by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), was taken Dec. 15-16, 2015. It shows a solar filament dancing above the sun’s surface.

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Solar filaments are found in magnetic loops on the sun. They hold cooler, dense gas above the sun’s surface. We see them as being darker because they are cooler than the surrounding material.

Charged particles are spinning along the sun’s magnetic field lines, giving the arched material a glowing appearance, as seen in extreme ultraviolet light.

The sun is constantly active, with electric currents generating its magnetic field. Unlike Earth, the surface moves at different speeds at different latitudes. As a result, sometimes magnetic field lines get twisted and snap, producing solar flares.

As well, the sun has an 11-year cycle, with a maximum (strong solar activity) and a minimum (low solar activity). It is currently in its solar minimum, with the maximum expected in 2022.

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