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Chromospheric Features


Why We Study the Sun 
The Big Questions 
Magnetism - The Key 


The Interior 
The Photosphere 
The Chromosphere 
The Transition Region 
The Corona 
The Solar Wind 
The Heliosphere 


Photospheric Features 
Chromospheric Features 
Coronal Features 
Solar Wind Features 


The Sunspot Cycle 
Solar Flares 
Post Flare Loops 
Coronal Mass Ejections 
Surface and Interior Flows 
Waves and Helioseismology 


Flare Mechanisms 
3D Magnetic Fields 
The Solar Dynamo 
Sunspot Cycle Predictions 
Solar Wind Dynamics 

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The Chromospheric Network

The chromospheric network is a web-like pattern most easily seen in the emissions of the red line of hydrogen (H-alpha) and the ultraviolet line of calcium (Ca II K - from calcium atoms with one electron removed). The network outlines the supergranule cells and is due to the presence of bundles of magnetic field lines that are concentrated there by the fluid motions in the supergranules.

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Filaments and Plage

Filaments are dark, thread-like features seen in the red light of hydrogen (H-alpha). These are dense, somewhat cooler, clouds of material that are suspended above the solar surface by loops of magnetic field. Plage, the French word for beach, are bright patches surrounding sunspots that are best seen in H-alpha. Plage are also associated with concentrations of magnetic fields and form a part of the network of bright emissions that characterize the chromosphere.

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Prominences are dense clouds of material suspended above the surface of the Sun by loops of magnetic field. Prominences and filaments are actually the same things except that prominences are seen projecting out above the limb, or edge, of the Sun. Both filaments and prominences can remain in a quiet or quiescent state for days or weeks. However, as the magnetic loops that support them slowly change, filaments and prominences can erupt and rise off of the Sun over the course of a few minutes or hours.

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Spicules are small, jet-like eruptions seen throughout the chromospheric network. They appear as short dark streaks in the H-alpha image to the left (National Solar Observatory/Sacramento Peak). They last but a few minutes but in the process eject material off of the surface and outward into the hot corona at speeds of 20 to 30 km/s.

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Author: David H. Hathaway,, (256) 544-7610
Mail Code SD50, NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL 35812


Responsible Official: John M. Davis,, (256) 544-7600
Mail Code SD50, NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL 35812


Last revised 2000 July 17 - D. H. Hathaway

Reproduced from