NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory is monitoring an unusual filament of magnetism on the sun.
This image, taken on Nov. 22nd, shows where magnetic forces are holding a massive curl of dense plasma just above the stellar surface:
Magnetic filaments on the sun are not uncommon. Usually they are linear, stretching in only one direction. This one, however, curls back on itself, circumscribing a region more than 280,000 km in diameter. The unusual architecture of the region may undermine its stability. Magnetic fields that criss-cross, like mismatching ends of an incomplete circle, can explode–a process called “magnetic reconnection.” Any eruptions this week would likely be Earth-directed.
The scale of this filament makes it an easy target for backyard solar telescopes. Monitoring is encouraged.