solar prominences

Kassite Kudurru (Boundary Stone), c. 1125-1100 BC

The cuneiform inscription on this kudurru records the granting by Eanna-shum-iddina, the governor of the Sealand, of five gur of corn land in the district of Edina in south Babylonia to a man called Gula-eresh. The boundaries of the land are laid out; the surveyor is named as Amurru-bel-zeri and the transfer completed by two high officials who are also named.

Nine gods are invoked to protect the monument, along with seventeen divine symbols. The symbols of the important Mesopotamian gods are most prominent: the solar disc of the sun-god Shamash, the crescent of the moon-god Sin and the eight-pointed star of Ishtar, goddess of fertility and war. The square boxes beneath these signs represent altars supporting the symbols of gods, including horned headdresses, the triangular spade of Marduk, and the wedge-shaped stylus of Nabu, the god of writing.

A prominent snake is shown on many kudurru and may, like many of the symbols, be related to the constellations. The text ends with curses on anyone who removes, ignores or destroys the kudurru.

The Sealand was one of the wealthiest regions of Babylonia. A dynasty called ‘Sealand’ first appears in records dating to the middle of the second millennium BC. It controlled the coastline of the south of Iraq and thus the trade routes down the Gulf. The Sealand rulers were defeated by the Kassite kings of Babylon in the fifteenth century BC and governors like Eanna-shum-iddina were then appointed to administer the region.


A special diamond ring by Robyn Hooz
Via Flickr:
Uno degli istanti più particolari dell'eclissi di sole del Marzo scorso: l'anello di diamante, ovvero l'attimo in cui l'allineamento fra terra luna e sole si interrompe e la luce torna a vincere sull'oscurità improvvisa nel giorno. Le nuvole per fortuna erano sottili e non hanno impedito la ripresa del fenomeno. Buona giornata Foto scattata con Canon EOS 600D + EF 70-300mm L IS USM

Can you identify a familiar area in the northeast USA just from nighttime lights? It might be possible because many major cities are visible, including (right to left) New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Richmond and Norfolk – Boston of the USA’s Northeast megalopolis is not pictured. The featured image was taken in 2012 from the International Space Station. In the foreground are two Russian cargo ships with prominent solar panels. This Northeast megalopolis of the USA contains almost 20 percent of the people of the USA but only about 2 percent of the land area. Also known also as the Northeast Corridor and part of the Eastern Seaboard, about 10 percent of the world’s largest companies are headquartered here. The near continuity of the lights seem to add credence to the 1960s-era prediction that the entire stretch is evolving into one continuous city.

Object Names: Earth

Image Type: Astronomical

Credit:  NASA, ISS Crew

Time And Space

 Solar filaments a.k.a. prominences – when observed at the solar limb (above), are long clouds of partially ionized plasma suspended above the Sun’s surface by strongly sheared magnetic structures, called filament channels, that can support the dense plasma against solar gravity. Filaments may form at various locations on the Sun, however, they are always found within preexisting filament channels above polarity inversion lines which separate areas of opposite magnetic polarity regions.



This mid-level (M1.2) solar flare was accompanied by a magnificent prominence (filament, if observed on the solar disk) eruption that turned into an impressive coronal mass ejection (CME) on June 18, 2015.

During the rising phase of eruptions, prominences often exhibit complex pre-flare disturbances, typically showing short-lived helical structures in the lower corona. 

Watch the video


A Prominence on the Sun : This eerie landscape of incandescent plasma suspended in looping and twisted magnetic fields stretched toward the Sun’s eastern horizon on September 16. Captured through a backyard telescope and narrowband filter in light from ionized hydrogen, the scene reveals a gigantic prominence lofted above the solar limb. Some 600,000 kilometers across, the magnetized plasma wall would dwarf worlds of the Solar System. Ruling gas giant Jupiter can only boast a diameter of 143,000 kilometers or so, while planet Earth’s diameter is less than 13,000 kilometers. Known as a hedgerow prominence for its appearance, the enormous structure is far from stable though, and such large solar prominences often erupt. via NASA


“Solar Prominence”, by Gary Palmer, UK

“Searing hot loops of plasma radiate from the edge of our local star – the Sun – in a phenomenon known as a solar prominence. A typical prominence covers over thousands of kilometres, with the largest ever recorded estimated to be over 800,000 kilometres, equalling roughly the radius of the Sun itself.” – Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2015

Diamond Rings and Baily s Beads : Near the March 20 equinox the cold clear sky over Longyearbyen, Norway, planet Earth held an engaging sight, a total eclipse of the Sun. The New Moon’s silhouette at stages just before and after the three minute long total phase seems to sprout glistening diamonds and bright beads in this time lapse composite of the geocentric celestial event. The last and first glimpses of the solar disk with the lunar limb surrounded by the glow of the Sun’s inner corona give the impression of a diamond ring in the sky. At the boundaries of totality, sunlight streaming through valleys in the irregular terrain along the Moon’s edge, produces an effect known as Baily’s Beads, named after English astronomer Francis Baily who championed an explanation for the phenomenon in 1836. This sharp composition also shows off the array of pinkish solar prominences lofted above the edge of the eclipsed Sun. via NASA


What may look like a small tornado in this picture is actually the diameter of the entire planet earth itself on the surface of the sun. The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) is a NASA satellite mission which will observe the Sun for over five years.  Ever since its launch, SDO has captured a bounty of astonishing images and video of our Sun, the most recent of which was taken over a 30-hour span between February 7-8, 2012.

The video shows a gargantuan tornado ripping along the surface of the Sun with gusts up to 300,000mph.  Terry Kucera, a solar physicist with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said, “It’s about 15,000 degrees Fahrenheit — relatively cool.”  Which is accurate when considering the Sun’s corona is a whopping 2 million degrees.  Solar tornadoes such as this one are known as “solar prominences.” Although they look very much like their tiny Earth-bound cousins, these solar tornadoes are structured in an entirely different way – through magnetism, not pressure and temperature fluctuations.

A Twisted Solar Eruptive Prominence : Ten Earths could easily fit in the “claw” of this seemingly solar monster. The monster, actually a huge eruptive prominence, is seen moving out from our Sun in this condensed half-hour time-lapse sequence. This large prominence, though, is significant not only for its size, but its shape. The twisted figure eight shape indicates that a complex magnetic field threads through the emerging solar particles. Differential rotation of gas just inside the surface of the Sun might help account for the surface explosion. The five frame sequence was taken in early 2000 by the Sun-orbiting SOHO satellite. Although large prominences and energetic Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) are relatively rare, they are again occurring more frequently now that we are near the Solar Maximum, a time of peak sunspot and solar activity in the eleven-year solar cycle. via NASA


Volcanism in the Solar System

On Mars, Olympus Mons (the “Snows of Olympus”) at 25 km stands above all other volcanoes we know of. It’s five times taller than the tallest volcano on Earth (Mauna Kea). If you stood on Olympus Mons and looked at the planet below you, all you’d see is more Olympus Mons in all directions. The curvature of the planet would fall away before you could see the base of the volcano.

Io, a moon of Jupiter, is the most geologically active place in the solar system. It prominently features intense sulfuric volcanism. The tidal forces from Jupiter constantly stretch the moon so that it’s core is heated by friction. The entire moon is essentially a volcano: the entire moon has been recycled through volcanoes at least 40 times since its inception.

Not all volcanoes spit liquified rock (silicates). Enceladus, moon of Saturn, has a region known as the “Tiger Stripes” at its south pole. Here scientists believe hydrothermal vents below the ice keep the water below hot enough to maintain a liquid ocean. The vents fire the water upwards, through the icy crust and out into space where they join Saturn’s rings. This is known as cryovolcanism. This phenomenon is thought to occur in other places as well such as Europa and Triton.

Earth, my favorite planet, has a volcano known as Stromboli. This Italian volcano has basically been erupting for about 2000 years… constantly.

(Image credit: NASA and Jens Bludau respectively)