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Last updated on April 19, 2014 at 21:20 EDT

Dragon Tail Filament Eruption, January 31, 2013

February 1, 2013

A look at the filament break-up on January 31, 2013.

The entire event lasted for approx. 4 hours. This video shows a variety of views of the break-up of this structure.

Filaments are anchored to the Sun’s surface in the photosphere, and extend outwards into the Sun’s hot outer atmosphere, called the corona.

A filament forms over timescales of about a day, and stable filaments may persist in the corona for several months, looping hundreds of thousands of miles into space.

Some of the plasma was released into space but not all could escape the gravitational pull of the Sun. It’s not surprising that plasma should fall back to the Sun. After all, the Sun’s gravity is powerful.

Credit: NASA SDO