This image (above) from NASAs Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) shows a very long, whip-like solar filament extending over half a million miles in a long arc above the suns surface.
Filaments are cooler clouds of solar material that are tethered above the suns surface by unstable magnetic forces.
The image and video (below), which covers August 6 to 8, 2012 show the filament as a darker strand that has been in view for several days. Towards the end of the video part of the filament seems to break away, but its basic length and shape seem to have remained mostly intact.
Explore further: NASA issues 'remastered' view of Jupiter's moon Europa