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September 21 2012

Solar fleet peers into coronal cavities


he sun's atmosphere dances. Giant columns of solar material made of gas so hot that many of the electrons have been scorched off the atoms, turning it into a form of magnetized matter we call plasma leap off the sun's surface, jumping and twisting. Sometimes these prominences of solar material, shoot off, escaping completely into space, other times they fall back down under their own weight.

The prominences are sometimes also the inner structure of a larger formation, appearing from the side almost as the filament inside a large light bulb. The bright structure around and above that light bulb is called a streamer, and the inside "empty" area is called a coronal prominence cavity.

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