A solar prominence captured by Swedish photographer Göran Strand is described as looking just like the Eiffel Tower.
Image Credit: Göran Strand / Twitter
Photographer Göran Strand took over 300 images from his own backyard using a Lunt 80mm hydrogen alpha pressure-tuned solar telescope, which was connected to a Point Grey Grasshopper 3 camera. As Strand elaborated to Discovery News: “This big prominence got my attention right away, even in my small 50mm telescope it was a beautiful sight. While setting up my bigger solar telescope I thought of how the prominence looked and that it reminded me of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.”
Personally, I think it looks like a giraffe, but as IFLScience explained in an article on pareidolia recently, the mind will find a familiar pattern in unfamiliar scenes, probably due to a leftover ancient precautionary instinct.
The huge prominence next to a scaled image of our Earth. Image Credit: Göran Strand / Twitter
So what is a solar prominence? As NASA explains, a solar prominence is a large, bright feature consisting of plasma that explodes outwards from the Sun's surface. The plasma flows along a twisted structure of magnetic fields created by the Sun, giving it a unique shape as it erupts outwards – in this case, appearing somewhat similar to the Eiffel Tower.
A solar prominence is anchored to the Sun’s surface by the photosphere and can loop hundreds of thousands of miles into space, possibly persisting for several months. Scientists are unsure why prominences occur.
Take a look at NASA’s video of a huge solar prominence exploding from the Sun’s surface.