An large solar eruption occurred on the Sun on April 9, 2008. This prominence was captured by the STEREO Ahead spacecraft showing the prominence as it twisted just above the surface of the Sun. The event was also captured by the STEREO Behind spacecraft, Hinode, TRACE and SOHO missions.

I am fascinated by Solar ejectionpictures of the Sun and the various events that occur on it. In a larger view of this picture, which can be found by clicking on the SOHO missions link above, the prominence looks to me like a large jellyfish with its tentacles falling down below it as it lifts itself above the Sun with the tentacles falling below  and touching the Sun.

The Sun is constantly emitting material out into space, sometimes with more bulk than other times, and it is these emissions than can pose a danger to astronauts in space as well as to Earth itself.

Were it not for the magnetic fields surrounding Earth that serve to deflect most of the emissions and radiation from the Sun, Earth would be sterile with no possibility for life forming. Scientists are currently putting a lot of resources into studying the Sun, its cycles and behavior. Solar flares often affect communication satellites, so attempts to predict these solar events are a prime objective of the missions.