This image of the Sun was taken at 2 pm on December 11, 2013 with a hydrogen-alpha telescope at the Phoebe Waterman Haas Public
Observatory at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.
In this image are many great examples of prominences, the wispy plumes just off the edge of the Sun, and filaments, the slightly darker lines
snaking across the disk of the Sun. These are both the same phenomenon, viewed at different angles. Because they stand taller than the Sun’s
atmosphere, we can see them as prominences poking past the Sun against the black of space when they aren’t directly facing us in the form of
Just like our own planet, the Sun has a magnetic field with poles at the top and bottom. However, the Earth is made of rock and metal, whereas
the Sun is made of highly energized plasma. So it should not come as a surprise that the Sun’s magnetic field is far more chaotic than our own.
Both prominences and filaments are shaped by this chaotic field. When magnetic field lines extend out from inside the Sun, some material is
attracted and follows along the loop, effectively coloring in the otherwise invisible magnetic field.
Telescope: Lunt 100mm hydrogen-alpha
Camera: Lumenera SKYnyx 2-2M
Image Number: WEB13852-2014
Credit: Image by Smithsonian Staff, Phoebe Waterman Haas Public Observatory
For print or commercial use, please contact: Smithsonian Institution
Reproductions are not currently available. If you would like to use this image as-is, please submit a permission request.