Pictured: ‘Plasma Waterfall’ forms on sun — as experts warn an increase in solar events can damage the world’s powergrids
- Flare photograph was taken by Argentina-based astronomer Eduardo Poupeau
- He said that it rose about 100,000 kilometers above the sun’s surface
- READ MORE: Moment powerful flare explodes from the sun
Scientists have revealed pictures of a 100,000 kilometer-high ‘plasma waterfall’ rising from the surface of the sun.
The flare — scientifically termed a polar crown prominence — was snapped by Argentina-based astronomer Eduardo Schaberger Poupeau.
It rose around 100,000 kilometers (60,000 miles) above the sun’s surface — or high enough to engulf the Earth eight time over — before being pulled back down by star’s magnetic reach.
Mr Poupeau said: ‘On my computer screen it looked like hundreds of threads of plasma were dripping down a wall. It really was a spectacle that left me speechless.’
Experts warn that if the plasma is blasted away from the sun and hits Earth it could end up knocking out the planet’s electricity grid.
Pictured above is the ‘plasma waterfall’ on the sun’s surface that was photographed by Eduardo Schaberger Poupeau, who lives in Argentina
Pictured above is another image of a plasma waterfall taken in 2008. Scientists say the eruptions are common but that they are not often photographed
A polar crown prominence, or solar waterfall, is when a large, bright body of gas extends above the surface of the sun.
They occur near the sun’s poles, where the plasma tends to be cooler and less turbulent.
At times areas of strong magnetism can build up, which causes plasma and gases to become denser, causing the appearance of dark filaments on the sun’s surface.
This strong magnetic field may then collide with another, causing the plasma to erupt outwards and create a ‘plasma waterfall’.
Moment a powerful flare explodes from the Sun
The blast was so powerful that it knocked out shortwave radio — both FM and AM — in North and South America for a few minutes. The blast happened at about 1pm on March 3.
Experts say the effect is common and can last for several days or weeks before subsiding — but that if the plasma escapes from the sun’s surface, it could cause a power outage on Earth.
Mr Poupeau said he rushed to take a photo of the flare from his garden in Santa Fe, Argentina, on March 9 after hearing about it on the news.
He said: ‘I knew it would be tough to photograph because of the intense heat wave and drought in my area, which causes a lot of turbulence and dust in the atmosphere, making it difficult to capture the sun in high resolution.
‘But I was determined to get a good shot, so I quickly set up my equipment in my backyard and used my most powerful telescope to get a better view.’
He added: ‘The vision I had on my laptop screen was truly incredible, being able to observe those hundreds of plasma threads dripping down a 100,000km high wall literally left me speechless.
‘I spent about two hours taking pictures, trying to find moments of greatest atmospheric stability to get the best possible result.’
In rare cases, magnetic forces can also become so strong that the hot plasma erupts away from the sun and into space — in what is called a coronal mass ejection (CME).
Experts warn that if one of these plasma plumes were to hit Earth it would knock out electronic equipment across the planet.
This last happened in 1859 when telegraph systems globally failed catastrophically and the Northern Lights extended as far south as Colombia.
Operators at the time reported receiving electric shocks from their equipment, telegraph paper catching fire and being able to operate some machines with batteries disconnected.
Experts say it can stop electrics from working by disrupting the Earth’s magnetic field.
It comes after NASA captured the moment that a powerful solar flare exploded from the sun’s surface.
The strong X-class flare, which can be ten times the size of Earth, was released from the sun’s surface at 12:52pm ET on March 3.
It was so powerful that it triggered temporary shortwave radio blackouts in North and South America.
The blast, which lasted for seven minutes, was released from a sunspot located at the top right region of the sun.
This particular spot, first identified in February, has quadrupled in size since according to NASA.
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