Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/03/14/ufo_sphere_solar_eruption/

Death Star SUCKS PLASMA FROM SUN in NASA riddle vid

Solar belch sparks refuelling UFO, black hole conspiracies

By Brid-Aine Parnell

Posted in Science, 14th March 2012 10:58 GMT

Vid Keen-eyed skywatchers have spotted a mysterious object emerging from the Sun that, according to the tinfoil-hatted YouTube majority, can only be a UFO, a small black hole, a world-destroying weapon or maybe a new planet.

Images show a shadowy spherical object apparently tethered to home world's star by a dark string. After much debate on YouTube, folks had come to the natural conclusion that it was some sort of alien ship fuelling up on solar plasma or possibly a new planet being born, particularly because you can see a Star Wars Death Star-like sphere blast away from the Sun.

One particular avid sun-worshipper going by the name of Sunsflare posted the video, a composite of telescope imagery taken by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, on his Facebook page as well as on YouTube, and asked for boffins' opinions on the phenomenon.

C. Alex Young, a solar astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre, who also runs a website called The Sun Today, kindly obliged in a posted video answer to Sunsflare that, unfortunately for ET-lovers everywhere, explained that the tethered sphere was actually quite a common occurrence.

"Filaments, when you see them on the solar disc at certain wavelengths, they appear to be dark because they're cooler material in relation to what's in the background. When you see them on the edge of the sun we call them prominences but they're the same objects," Young said.

"They sit in this kind of tunnel called the filament channel so when you look at it from the edge of the sun, what you see is this spherical object and you're actually looking down the tunnel."

You can hear and see his full explanation here.

Joseph Gurman, project scientist in the Solar Physics Laboratory at the Goddard centre, told Life's Little Mysteries that when a prominence extends out of the Sun, it's usually a sign that it's about to erupt - just as this one did.

"It's generally accepted, though still not conclusively proven, that prominence eruptions occur when the overlying magnetic field that contains the prominence material is disrupted," he said. ®