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ESA’s Sun-watching Proba-2 minisatellite shows the aftermath of 18 February 2014’s coronal mass ejection.
Acquired little more than three hours after the initial eruption, the image demonstrates the Sun’s magnetic field reconnecting in the form of loops. Look down and left of the centre of the solar disc to clearly see this distinctive belt of loops.
Coronal mass ejections are powered by energy stored in the magnetic field of the Sun’s corona. This energy can be released by ‘reconnection’, in which oppositely oriented field lines are reconfigured to a more relaxed state and stored magnetic energy is converted into the heat and kinetic energy needed to drive huge eruptions.
Fields that have recently reconnected are heated to many millions of degrees, before cooling to the million degrees that are visible to Proba-2’s SWAP imager. A second Proba-2 sensor, LYRA, measures the Sun’s energy intensity at the same time. Both instruments are operated for ESA by the Royal Observatory of Belgium.
To see a movie of the 2014 erruption and its aftermath, click here.
All the latest solar images from ESA and NASA are fed to the Helioviewer website, where you can make your own images and animations – see here.