ESA’s small satellite Proba-2 was watching as a medium class M2.5 solar flare took place on 7 June 2011.
Proba-2’s SWAP (Sun watcher using APS detectors and image processing) imager captured the massive prominence eruption as it occurred, as a mass of high-energy particles and superheated gas rose up from the Sun’s surface.
This gas was relatively cool — about 80 000 K — which explains why it appears quite dark at the extreme ultraviolet wavelength that SWAP observes in. Much of this gas then fell back to the Sun, with dark downflows that brighten as they fall, probably due to localised heating. This darkening actually caused a decrease in the average intensity seen by SWAP.
For the second part of the video, the images have been warped to show the event as it might appear to an observer flying just above the Sun’s surface.