Sunday, October 31, 2010

Solar flares

Most frequently at the peak of the sunspot cycle, violent eruptions of gas are ejected from the sun’s surface. The prominences and flares may rise to some 60,000 miles (100,000 km) and may be visible for weeks. Solar flares are more sudden and violent events than prominences. While they are thought to also be the result of magnetic kinks, they do not show the arcing or looping pattern characteristic of prominences. Flares are explosions of incredible power, bringing local temperatures to 100,000,000 K. Whereas prominences release their energy over days or weeks, flares explode in a flash of energy release that lasts a matter of minutes or, perhaps, hours.

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