Images show a shadowy spherical object apparently tethered to home world's star by a dark string.
After much debate on YouTube, folks had come to the natural conclusion that it was some sort of alien ship fuelling up on solar plasma or possibly a new planet being born, particularly because you can see a Star Wars Death Star-like sphere blast away from the Sun.
One particular avid sun-worshipper going by the name of Sunsflare posted the video, a composite of telescope imagery taken by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, on his Facebook page as well as on YouTube, and asked for boffins' opinions on the phenomenon.
C. Alex Young, a solar astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre, who also runs a website called The Sun Today, kindly obliged in a posted video answer to Sunsflare that, unfortunately for ET-lovers everywhere, explained that the tethered sphere was actually quite a common occurrence.
"They sit in this kind of tunnel called the filament channel so when you look at it from the edge of the sun, what you see is this spherical object and you're actually looking down the tunnel."
You can hear and see his full explanation here.
Joseph Gurman, project scientist in the Solar Physics Laboratory at the Goddard centre, told Life's Little Mysteries that when a prominence extends out of the Sun, it's usually a sign that it's about to erupt - just as this one did.
"It's generally accepted, though still not conclusively proven, that prominence eruptions occur when the overlying magnetic field that contains the prominence material is disrupted," he said. ®
Source: The Register