Solar Physics

, Volume 269, Issue 2, pp 237-251

First online:

Solar Prominences – An Intriguing Phenomenon

  • Einar Tandberg-HanssenAffiliated withCenter for Space Plasma and Aeronomic Research, University of Alabama in Huntsville Email author 


The article starts with an autobiographical account, where the author relates how his several study-trips abroad gradually led him to the study of solar physics in general, and prominences particularly.

The article then treats the historical development of prominence research, from the “speculative” period, before the introduction of photography and spectroscopy around 1860. These techniques led to a new understanding of the nature of prominences as “hot clouds in the solar atmosphere”. However, it was only after about 1960, when the magnetic field in prominences could be measured, that the more complete picture of prominences could be understood, a view greatly helped by space missions, the result of which was the realization that the solar atmosphere is crisscrossed by electric currents that lead to magnetic flux tubes of nearly all imaginable sizes.

The article ends with a discussion of the disparition-brusque phenomenon, and the closely related coronal mass ejections.