An astrophotographer has captured a hauntingly beautiful image of a massive plume of plasma shooting out of the sun. The fiery filament, known as a coronal mass ejection (CME), extended into space to a distance of more than 1 million miles (1.6 million kilometers) from the solar surface, according to the photographer.
The image was captured Sept. 24 by professional astrophotographer and Arizona resident Andrew McCarthy (opens in new tab), and he shared the stunning view on Reddit on Sept. 25 in the subreddit r/space (opens in new tab). The CME was part of a minor solar storm — G-1 class, the lowest category on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Geomagnetic Storm Scale — and was pointed away from Earth, according to SpaceWeather.com (opens in new tab).
The ethereal ejection was “the largest CME I’ve ever witnessed,” McCarthy wrote on Reddit. The plasma was initially contained in a large loop connected to the sun’s surface, known as a prominence, and then broke off and streamed into space at around 100,000 mph (161,000 km/h), McCarthy added.