On June 3, 2014, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, spacecraft captured a 500,000-mile-long filament stretching across the sun’s atmosphere. Resembling a fiery whip, these suspended clouds made of million-degree electrified gases rise and fall in giant arcs above the surface. Scientists actually have two different names for these types of features depending on where on the sun they’re observed. When seen hanging over the sun’s face, scientists call them filaments. But when projecting from the sun’s limb, they’re called prominences. The massive structures can last up to several months, and will occasionally break apart in sudden eruptions. When this happens, solar material can be sent out into space, and if it moves toward Earth, it can spark stunning auroras. Watch the video for an up-close look at a solar filament.