The great solar eruption of May 24, 1979
Article first published online: 3 JUN 2011
©1981. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.
Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union
Volume 62, Issue 15, page 153, 14 April 1981
How to Cite
1981), The great solar eruption of May 24, 1979, Eos Trans. AGU, 62(15), 153–153, doi:10.1029/EO062i015p00153-01., , , and (
- Issue published online: 3 JUN 2011
- Article first published online: 3 JUN 2011
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The sequence of images on today's cover of Eos shows the most spectacular solar mass ejection observed to date with the Naval Research Laboratory's Earth-orbiting coronagraph. Preceded by a loop-shaped coronal structure, an enormous eruptive prominence is visible both expanding and moving outward across the coronagraph's 2.5–10.0-RS annular field of view. As it left the field, the prominence dwarfed the sun itself, whose size and location are indicated by the small white disk in the lower-right photograph.
The prominence can be recognized by its characteristic structural detail and by the fact that its relatively unpolarized radiation is not blocked by the polarization-analyzing rings that are faintly visible at 5 RS and 8 RS against the coronal background. The Ha 6563α line of neutral hydrogen is the principal prominence emission line in the coronagraph's 4000–7000-A spectral bandpass. On the other hand, the strongly polarized coronal radiation is continuum emission originating at the occulted solar disk and Thomson scattered by coronal electrons in the 2.5–10.0-RS field of view. Both the prominence and the expanding coronal ‘loop’ have been enhanced in our cover photograph by subtracting a preevent image from each picture.