By: Lawrence LeBlond, RedOrbit.com
Scientists from NASA have discovered an enormous 'solar whip' on the surface of the Sun and have warned that radiation from the phenomenon is heading straight toward Earth, arriving on our doorstep sometime today.
The stunning event was captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) and, according to a report from Mail Online's Mark Prigg, video and images of the event were from an earlier date-August 6-8, 2012.
The event shows a very long, whip-like solar filament extending out from the surface of the Sun more than 500,000 miles in a long arc above the star. These filaments are cooler clouds of solar material that are tethered above the Sun's surface by unstable magnetic forces.
"Towards the end of the video part of the filament seems to break away, but its basic length and shape seem to have remained mostly intact," NASA said in a statement.
Experts, working out the details of the event, have concluded that the eruption is so large that it will reach Earth. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) prediction center said that a cloud of radiation from the eruption will reach the planet today and will produce a minor-to-moderate geomagnetic storm above the planet. This will give many in North America a potentially spectacular Aurora Borealis viewing.
A solar whip is caused when a red glowing loop of plasma erupts, releasing the plasma out in huge loops hundreds of thousands of miles into space. The event forms over timescales of about a day, and stable prominences may persist in the corona for several months, according to NASA.
However, experts are still researching how and why these prominences are formed. The red-glowing loop material is comprised of electrically charged hydrogen and helium.