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13 November 2011

Grand filament around the sun's northeastern limb

A filament of magnetism more than 700,000 km long is curling around the sun's northeastern limb. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory photographed the vast structure during the early hours of Nov. 12th:

The filament is weighted down by solar plasma. If it erupts--as such filaments are prone to do--it could fall to the stellar surface below, setting off an explosion called a Hyder flare. Or it might fly upward, hurling fragments of itself into space. Amateur astronomers with solar telescopes are encouraged to monitor the region for developments. The only challenge will be fitting the whole thing into a single field of view.