back to article Hiss-hiss! GIGANTIC SOLAR FILAMENT snakes around Sun

NASA boffins have observed a massive filament of solar material snaking around the Sun. When fully extended the scientists believe that the filament – a cloud of stuff suspended above the fiery star by "powerful magnetic forces" – would measure some one million miles across from end to end. Solar filament (dark thread upper …

  1. Michael Thibault


    What's the point of this yarn?

    1. Lars Silver badge

      Re: Erm...

      I don't know, but if it replaced some story about some marriage/divorce I am all for it

    2. Michael Thibault

      Re: Erm...

      5 thumbs down, eh? Tsk, tsk! Apparently it's necessary to include the joke icon every time.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Erm...

        5 thumbs down, eh? Tsk, tsk! Apparently it's necessary to include the joke icon every time.

        I think the problem is people just didn't follow your thread. They just didn't have that same lightbulb moment as you...

        Or perhaps your sense of humour is off by just a hair?

    3. Mpeler

      Re: Erm...

      Size 5 tips, knit and *cough* perl.....

      (Hope it's waterproof yarn...)

  2. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

    That's about 100 times the size of Earth

    This isn't a good size comparison. If you MUST compare it with terrestrial sizes. the Earth's equator is roughly 25000 miles in circumference, so "About 40 times round Earth's equator" would be better, but IMHO "would reach a third of the way round the Sun if stretched out" would be best. The Sun's circumference is 2.74 million miles.

    1. phil dude
      Thumb Up

      Re: That's about 100 times the size of Earth

      It is sufficient that such an amazing object exists in the universe. The fact that our very existence depends intimately on it (we like share the origin of some atoms or other subatomic particles with it), should invoke a sense of awe and wonder.

      That, and a call to question our funding priorities...


      1. Matt 21


        "we like share", isn't that Facebook and to be honest I don't think it's nearly as important as you imagine.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: That's about 100 times the size of Earth

      At least give it to us in mega-campbells - some measurement we can imagine anyway. I make that about 420 million elephants stacked end-to-end. African elephants, mind, not including trunk/tail contact points.

  3. stuartnz

    What's a mile?

    The REAL problem with the measurements given is that they are not in official El Reg units. All this talk of miles and Earths is far too confusing, give me double decker buses and swimming pools, please

    1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge

      Re: What's a mile?

      Comes to about 11,637,878br` or 174,568,174ddb" give or take


      "Double-decker Bus

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

        Re: What's a mile?

        I presume Double Decker Bus (ddb) is of the Route Master variety. What's the conversion for a Boris Bus (BB), or even a Bendy Bus (bb).

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: What's a mile?

          No-one knows the length of a bendy-bus. They all caught fire before the tape measure could reach the other end...

          1. Mpeler

            Re: What's a mile?

            Don't tell me apple makes busses too... (well, OK, they have them in circuits too, so why not....ouch).

            iBus....hmmm...somewhere there's an app(le) for that...really app(e)ling.....

            (Gets me coat...feets don't fail me now....)

  4. Cipher

    Showing yet again... little we know about ginormus balls of fusing Hydrogen/Helium...

  5. i like crisps

    From your photos..

    ..the sun appears to have a face! Although tilted to one side it looks as though its saying "Oi" or it is in a great deal of pain. Thank you for the nightmares.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: From your photos..

      If it has a face, then presumably it will be able to put a hat on. Hip hip hip hooray!

      1. Gavin King

        Re: From your photos..

        Would that make it a sun hat?

        1. Bill B

          Re: From your photos..

          @Gavin. You are obviously far too young to remember the song he's quoting:)

  6. Jonathan Richards 1
    Thumb Up

    Saw it on the 27th

    As it 'appens, I was given a look through a rather good solar telescope at Harrow School's Rayleigh Observatory on the afternoon of 27th September. A curious long feature, probably the precursor to the one seen in these pictures, was clearly visible then. Unfortunately we failed to take any photographs!

    1. Sanctimonious Prick

      Re: Saw it on the 27th

      How is it one fails to take photographs?

      1. Jonathan Richards 1

        Re: Saw it on the 27th

        > How is it one fails to take photographs?

        Couldn't get the right extension tubes arranged to focus with the only DSLR camera available, which was a bit of a disappointment. At the time I had no idea that the long thin sunspotty thing would make it into an El Reg piece...

  7. tempemeaty

    Cool article...oh wait...

    It's amazing what that hot thing we orbit can do sometimes.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Needs to be a science fiction book. :)

    1. drewsup

      Re: Starworm!

      Thanks, you just gave SyFy channel a new crap movie to make!

      1. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

        Re: Starworm! (@drewsup)

        SunPlanet vs. MoonComet?

        I bet I know who wins...

    2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: Starworm!

      An excuse to rework "The Lair of the White Worm",

      Don't care about Hugh Grant as long as Amanda Donohoe reprises her role. Alas Ken Russell is no longer with us

  9. Montreal Sean

    uh oh!

    That looks disturbingly like the beginnings of a tentacle.

    At least there are a couple of planets between us so we'll get some warning when the Sun reaches for it's first appetizer...

    1. kryptonaut

      Re: uh oh!

      I reckon it's a Noodly Appendage

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: uh oh!

      There could be more truth in that than most may think. There is nothing that says the " filament" could not get much longer and break away from the sun starting at one end and end up having a whip snapping effect of some sort that accelerates a condensed amount of plasma directly at earth. It doesn't take only a space rock or ball of ice hitting this planet to cause a significant amount of damage, but our puny brains make it so much more plausible because we've been here for such a short time. Rock fall from sky, hit earth, go boom, things die, start over. There could be also, sun spits a massive and concentrated "ball" of plasma, hits earth, goes hiss, then boom, things die, start over.

      Over time, we live in a very dangerous neighborhood. We just haven't been around long enough to know precisely how dangerous.

      1. Sureo

        Re: uh oh! (dangerous neighborhood)

        I'm glad you're staying up at night worrying about this so I don't have to.

  10. bitten


    The sun is just falling apart to form two separate stars. The filament story is just for the panick prone.

    1. Vic

      Re: Filament?

      The sun is just falling apart to form two separate stars

      Nah. It's hatching to release a space dragon or something.

      A new one of the same size will be shat out before anyone misses it...


  11. itzman

    Are we doomed?

    I think we should be told.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Are we doomed?


      1. Alien8n

        Re: Are we doomed?

        Judging from what most people seem to believe according to my Facebook news feed, we don't need the sun to explode to doom the human race. We're quite capable of doing it ourselves...

  12. xeroks

    Interesting use of the word 'filament'

    I've always associated it with long, thin things. Where 'thin' is on a human scale, not a solar scale.

    1. Mpeler
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Interesting use of the word 'filament'

      Have to wonder too, where is the 6.3V filament transformer to keep it lit?

      (Paris can't seem to find it either... ;) )...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So there's a long stringy bit of heat sitting on top of the rest of the heat. So what does that mean? What happens now?

    1. Ashton Black

      Re: Ok

      Dooomed... Dooomed I tell ya!!!

      1. Duke2010

        Re: Ok

        "Dooomed... Dooomed I tell ya!!!"

        Sounds like it.. Unless you are another bit of heat, then you will be fine.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    If this thing is 100 times as big as the earth and Im standing on the earth right now then how big is my wiener?

    1. Ashton Black

      Re: So..

      One would imagine, two short plan(c)k lengths.

  15. JoshOvki


    First the moon, now the sun?! Next you are going to be telling me we are actually on the back on a huge turtle.

    1. Alien8n

      Re: First...

      It's elephants all the way down...

  16. evs

    How long is it?

    > would measure some one million miles across from end to end.

    It doesn't look that wide in the photo.

  17. alwarming

    Not sure if I see the filament...

    But I noticed that Baphomet is about to emerge for hellfire...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. doomsday

    Hmm. So the resulting doomflare as the filament collapses resulting in the biggest CME since early 1859 knocks out:- GPS, power AND internet over half the planet allowing Ebola to run rampant.

    Great, just great.

    (scuttles off to figure out how to kludge together a time vehicle using salvaged pinball components, assorted exotic metal oxides, Russian VFD tubes, a few radioactive materials and a not-so-recent somewhat rusty Getz)


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