by Natalie Wolchover
Life's Little Mysteries Staff Writer
13 March 2012
prominence and associated filament tunnel, which erupted March 12.
Telescope images captured of the sun on
Monday (March 12) show what appears to be a planet-size shadowy
object tethered to the sun by a dark filament.
In the image sequence, a burst of
brightly lit material can be seen erupting from the sun's surface
surrounding the dark object, after which the orb detaches from the
sun and shoots out into space.
The footage, a composite of images captured by the Solar Dynamics
Observatory and processed by scientists at NASA's Goddard Space
Flight Center, has quickly garnered attention on YouTube, where
viewers are suggesting it shows a UFO spacecraft refueling by
sucking up solar plasma, or at the very least, the birth of a new
However, according to NASA scientists, the feature is actually a
little-understood, but frequently observed, type of solar activity
called a "prominence," and the way it is situated beneath another
solar feature gives it its otherworldy appearance - below video:
The thread extending from the lower left edge of the sun in the
video is known as a "prominence," a feature containing cooler,
denser plasma than the surrounding 3.5-million-degree Fahrenheit
corona, said Joseph Gurman, project scientist in the Solar Physics
Laboratory at NASA Goddard.
It isn't yet known exactly how
prominences develop, but these dense plasma loops can extend from
the sun's surface thousands of miles into space.
"When prominences are that extended in height above the limb [edge
of the sun], it's usually a sign that they're about to erupt, as
this one did," Gurman told Life's Little Mysteries.
C. Alex Young, a solar astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight
Center who runs a website called The Sun Today, explained that the
prominence is situated below a tunnel-shape feature called a
"When you look at it from the edge of the sun,
what you actually see is a spherical object. You're actually looking
down the tunnel. And this tunnel sits up top of the filament," Young
explained at The Sun Today.
He added that the development of these
structures is quite common.
But why is the prominence dark?
Gurman explained that all the light
in the SDO images is the same color - a specific wavelength that is
emitted by iron atoms that have been ionized 13 times, known as Fe
The dark filament seen in the images (the refueling UFO's
"tether," according to YouTube users) is a part of the prominence
that happens to absorb light of this color, making it appear dark.
"The absorption is typically seen in lines such as Fe XIV only in
the thinnest, densest parts of the prominence, which is here seen
edge-on as it rotates over the solar limb," he said. [6 Everyday
Things That Work Strangely in Space]
In the image sequence, there is a burst of activity around the
prominence, and then it and the filament channel shoot out into
space immediately afterwards.
According to Gurman, the first event
was probably an outburst of the sun's magnetic field called a
coronal mass ejection.
"It's generally accepted, though still not
conclusively proven, that prominence eruptions occur when the
overlying magnetic field that contains the prominence material is
disrupted," he said.
Another image (below) showing the same coronal mass ejection and prominence
eruption was captured by the
Solar and Heliospheric Observatory on
In this image, which captured light in the visible
wavelength range, a bright swirl of material from the prominence
trails the fainter edge of the coronal mass ejection as the two
plunge into space.
Less exciting than a refueling UFO or a brand new planet, maybe -
but there's nothing quite like the truth.
Does Sun Video Show UFO Refueling?
Experts say, erm..., no, no it doesn't...
14 March 2012
A widely shared curious video showing
some strange activity around the surface of the sun has caught the
imagination of space-watchers and alien enthusiasts.
When heavy filters blocking out the fiery brightness were applied to
captured footage of the sun YouTube user Sunsflare suggested that he
had spotted a mysterious floating object connecting to the surface
of the sun, seemingly connected by a long cord.
Could this be an alien ship stopping off to refuel by stealing some
of our mighty sun's energy?
The equivalent of a galactic stop off at
the petrol station?
Or is this some kind of essence-sucking Death
Star attempting to destroy our solar system?
Well, perhaps not.
Scientists have said that this simply shows a regular but
interesting phenomenon of coronal cavity where there has been an
eruption from the sun's surface. Spoilsports.
We know the REAL
See the video below...
The sun 'UFO' explained:
- March 2012 -
Massive UFO Re-fueling at the SUN
Gigantesco OVNI se Recarga de Energía en El Sol -
April 17, 2012