Solar purrominence

By Phil Plait | October 11, 2011 7:00 am

I know I’ve posted a lot about the Sun lately, and I know I just posted a funny picture by astrophotographer Alan Friedman. And maybe I should’ve waited for Caturday to post this. But c’mon. How could I not post this as soon as I saw it?

[Click to concatenate.]

It’s a SOL cat! I love how it looks like it’s rubbing its head on the Sun.

If you want the technical description of what you’re seeing, it’s a solar prominence, a long stream of ionized gas belched out by the Sun, flowing along its magnetic field lines.

Think of it as a 80,000 kilometer-long cosmic hairball the Sun hacked up. I will from now on.

And if you liked that picture by Alan, this one will make your hair stand on end!

[UPDATE: Alan calculated the size of this prominence as 80,000 km, and that looks about right to me. So just for comparison, I added the Earth roughly to scale in the picture here. That’s a pretty big cat. It’s head is bigger than our whole planet! Imagine the litter box that would take…]


Related posts:

Sunsquatch
Seriously jaw-dropping picture of the Sun
The boiling, erupting Sun
The delicate tendrils of a solar dragon
For your viewing pleasure: Active Region 1302

Comments (9)

  1. Messier Tidy Upper

    Awe. What a purr-fect pareidolia! Classic. :-)

    (Yeah I know but someone was bound to use that pun so I figured I’d get in first!)

    That’s one hot kitten! Or you could say, a cat on a hot hydrogen and helium plasma* roof! :-)

    (Ditto. ;-) )

    * With tiny traces of plasma tin in it – only, I dunno afew Earth mass or so?

  2. Let’s just hope the Lord doesn’t start appearing on your toast.

  3. RwFlynn

    CSB time — the SOL cat reminds me of one of mine, except she isn’t 80,000 kilometers long. She’s actually quite small as far as cats go.
    /Just read your article “Carried on a Litter” and I have to say it was put together like a beautifully written joke.

  4. Ruth/STL

    Reminds me of T.S. Elliot

    The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes
    The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
    Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening
    Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
    Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
    Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap, 20
    And seeing that it was a soft October night
    Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

  5. Doug

    Odd, I saw Yoda peeking around the sun Kilroy-style.

    Once you have one image in your brain, it can be hard to see anything else.

  6. VinceRN

    Saw the picture before the title, I got a cat too, though I see the eyes peeking over the edge too. Maybe not Yoda though. Could be a very large telling though.

  7. Jamie

    Wait doesn’t “Concatenate” just mean sticking to pieces of text together: “this”+”that” = “thisthat”. At least that is what all my programming manuals say…?

  8. mike burkhart

    Look at it backwards and it looks like a hamster hording food . I know because I have a pet hamster. Hamsters don’t eat there food directly out of the food dish , they stuff it in there cheek pouches (some times I’m amazed how munch they can stuff in there) and burry it , when they get hungry tey dig it up and eat it . In fact hamster is german for horder.

  9. Catalyst

    If you check out SpaceX’s twitter account for October 11th you’ll realize that Elon Musk really enjoyed this particular post.

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