California, June 1 :
NASA’s sun-observing IRIS spacecraft has captured its first stunning close-up of a colossal coronal mass ejection (CME) erupting from the sun.
The field of view for this imagery is about five times the width of earth and about seven-and-half times its length, a tremendous sheet of solar material can be seen erupting in a latest video released by NASA.
The view is unprecedented for IRIS which was launched in June last year to observe the lowest levels of the sun’s atmosphere with better resolution than ever before.
IRIS must commit to pointing at certain areas of the sun at least a day in advance, so catching a CME in the act involves some educated guesses and a little bit of luck.
“We focus in on active regions to try to see a flare or a CME. And then we wait and hope that we will catch something. This is the first clear CME for IRIS, so the team is very excited,” said Bart de Pontieu, the IRIS science lead at Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory in Palo Alto, California.
The video, available on NASA’s web site, shows how solar material erupts outward at speeds of 1.5 million miles per hour.