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24 Sep 2012 00:00
ticketing boxoffice Solar Explosion
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Now, the space agency has released a new photo of the eye-popping event, which shows the filament's size in comparison to planet Earth. The picture is a good reminder of how comparably insignificant the Blue Planet really is when measured up against the solar system's central star.

According to C. Alex Young, a solar physicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., the filament--traveling at more than 900 miles per second--was "probably on the order of 30 Earths across, 300,000 kilometers or 186,000 miles."

Just to put that comparison into context, the Sun's diameter, according to National Geographic, is about 864,000 miles across. Lined up end to end, this means that more than 100 Earths would be needed to stretch across it's fiery surface.

Measured a different way, if the Sun was hollow, instead of filled with scorching hot gasses, about 1 million Earth's could fit inside.

Solar filaments like the one ejected in August are anchored to the sun's lower atmosphere layer, called the photosphere, and extend through the outer atmosphere, or the corona. The effects of the plasma, while not visible to the naked eye, caused a colorful aurora on Sept. 3 that could be seen from Earth, The Atlantic reports.
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