A photographer has captured a frighteningly beautiful image of a huge plume of plasma spiking out from the sun.
fiery filament, known as a Coronal mass ejection (CME), extending out into space more than 1 million miles (1.6 million km) from the surface of the Sun, according to the photographer.
CME was part of a minor solar storm – Class G-1, the lowest class in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) geomagnetic storm Scale – pointed away from a landto me SpaceWeather.com.
McCarthy wrote on Reddit that the etheric ejaculation was “the biggest CME I’ve ever seen.”
The plasma was initially contained in a large ring connected to SunMcCarthy added that its surface, known as a protrusion, then broke off and flowed into space at a speed of about 100,000 miles per hour (161,000 km/h).
Related: Can a solar storm destroy the Earth?
McCarthy wrote that the image is a false-colour, time-lapse composite of hundreds of thousands of images taken over a six-hour period.
Between 30 and 80 individual images were taken every second and then stored in a file that eventually peaked at around 800 GB. The images were then merged to show CME in great detail.
In the image, the surface of the Sun and the CME are shown in orange – but in reality, they are not. The chromosphere (the lowest region of the Sun’s atmosphere) and CMEs naturally emit a type of light that appears pinkish red to us and is known as hydrogen alpha or H-alpha light.
But because the exposure time of each image was so short, the original images were almost entirely white. McCarthy added orange digitally while composing the final image, to provide a contrast between individual structures on the Sun’s surface and to highlight the CME.
However, since the rest of the image is not filtered out in orange, the sun retains a frightening white halo that stands out against the dark background of space.
CMEs have become more frequent in recent months as the sun has entered a period of increased solar activity known as the sun’s maximum, which lasts about seven years. This will provide many opportunities for people to take similar photos.
“We’ll see more of these as we move more toward the solar maximum,” McCarthy wrote. He added that the plasma plumes are likely to increase “gradually”.
The photographer warned people not to try to watch the sun without the proper equipment.
McCarthy: ‘Don’t point a telescope at the sun’ Wrote on reddit. “You’ll fry your camera or worse, your eyes.”
He added that the telescope he used to photograph the CME was “specially modified with multiple filters” in order to safely observe the CME and take pictures.
“Infuriatingly humble alcohol fanatic. Unapologetic beer practitioner. Analyst.”