On this beautiful image of our nearest star, which was made by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), the Sun spews powerful and elegant loops of magnetized plasma that reaches great heights in the solar corona.
Held on Monday, this SDO observation revealed many of the magnetic properties of several active regions. In this photo, taken using the 171A SDO filter, we see a plasma heated to several million degrees, which shines in the extreme ultraviolet range. Light loops of magnetic field lines direct hot plasma from the surface of the Sun into open space - this feature is known as coronal loops.
SDO is equipped with a set of instruments that allows you to view all layers of the solar atmosphere from the photosphere to the solar corona, filled with solar plasma of various temperatures. Observations like this allow a better understanding of the physical processes on the sun, such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections. Outbreaks and outliers can be disastrous for the Earth.
"We know solar flares are the result of interactions between magnetic fields, but we are still unable to match our theories and observations to be able to predict them," said Michael Kirk, a scientist from the Goddard Space Flight Center at NASA in Greenbelt, Maryland.
SDO studies the Sun since its launch in 2010 and provides us with unprecedented images of the solar atmosphere, making high-resolution images and constantly observing solar activity in fast, transient processes that were poorly understood before the launch of SDO.