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Space photo of the week: A planet-size explosion rocks the sun's 'mossy' corona




What it is: A fiery landscape on the surface of the sun

Where it is: About 93 million miles (150 million kilometers) from Earth

When it was released: May 2, 2024

Why it's so special: A golden meadow stretches to the horizon, complete with fluffy moss, distant rainfall — and gargantuan plasma explosions towering larger than Earth itself.

It's just another day on the sun.

Captured in September 2023 by the European Space Agency's (ESA) Solar Orbiter, this close-up view of our star shows the chaotic transition zone between the sun's chromosphere and corona, the two outermost layers of the sun's atmosphere. Brighter areas of the image (also available as a short video) represent temperatures of 1.8 million degrees Fahrenheit (1 million degrees Celsius), according to ESA, with cooler regions looking comparatively dark as they absorb radiation.

This golden panorama is a miniature gallery of extreme solar phenomena. Fuzzy, lace-like features in the bottom left of the image are "coronal moss" — structures that form at the bases of gigantic plasma loops that ride the sun's magnetic-field lines high into the solar atmosphere.