A stunning new Nasa image shows an extremely rare pattern streaming from the sun at close to 7,000 miles per hour (11,200 km/h).
A dark snake-like filament can be seen erupting from the star, but while the formations are normally stretched out like a strand, this one is circular like a whirlpool.
This is because it is being yanked back by the star’s staggering gravitational pull – which is about 27.9 times that of Earth.
The rare sight, captured by Nasa’s orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), has only been seen a ‘handful of times’, the agency said.
‘Solar filaments are clouds of charged particles that float above the sun, tethered to it by magnetic forces,’ Nasa said in a statement.
‘They are usually elongated and uneven strands. Only a handful of times before have we seen one shaped like a circle.
‘While it may have no major scientific value, it is noteworthy because of its rarity.’
The birth and death of filaments is driven by the sun’s magnetic field.
Much about the formations remains a mystery, and scientists are unsure as to why some of them form as strands and others as circles.
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