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A Different View of the Sun August 7, 2008

Posted by jtintle in Space Fotos, Sun.
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Image Credit:

NASA

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Description:

This photo shows a view of the sun from Baja California during an eclipse on July 11, 1991, with the moon sliding in front of the sun.

On Aug. 1, 2008 a total solar eclipse was visible in parts of Canada, northern Greenland, the Arctic, central Russia, Mongolia and China. The eclipse swept across Earth in a narrow path that began in Canada’s northern territory of Nunavut and ended in northern China’s Silk Road region. Unfortunately, the eclipse was not visible in most of North America.

For more information on the latest eclipse, visit www.nasa.gov/eclipse.

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Solar Tornadoes January 10, 2007

Posted by jtintle in Space Fotos, Sun.
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Credit:

left, G. Scharmer, L. Rouppe van der Voort (KVA ) et al., SVST: right, copyright 2001, Reel EFX. Inc

Description:

As Fred Hoyle long ago pointed out; the Sun does not conform to the expected behavior of an internally heated ball of gas, simply radiating its energy into space. Instead, its behavior at every level is complex and baffling. Nowhere is it more mysterious than in a sunspot.
Sunspots are strange blemishes on the face of the Sun that offer some of the strongest evidence against the Sun being powered internally. They are conventionally described as being a result of strong magnetic fields pinching off the convection of heat from inside the Sun before it can reach the surface.

The electric star interpretation is that sunspots are breaks in the hot surface of the sun, through which we can get a glimpse of the underlying layers. To satisfy the standard theory, these deeper layers of the Sun should be hotter to drive the so-called vigorous convection. But they aren’t. The dark center of the sunspot, or umbra, is 20% cooler than the rest of the surface of the Sun.

The outer shadow of the sunspot, or penumbra, and the structure and behavior of the filaments that form the penumbra are also too complex to be explained by standard stellar theory.

There is a temptation for plasma researchers to simply equate the penumbral filaments with gargantuan lightning bolts, but the features do not match all that well. A typical lightning flash lasts for 0.2 seconds and covers a distance of about 10 km. The penumbral filaments last for at least one hour and are of the order of 1000 km long. If we could scale a lightning bolt 100 times we might have a flash that lasted between 20 and 200 seconds and was 1000 km long. The lifetime is too short. Also, measurements of scars on lightning conductors show that the lightning channel is only about 5 mm wide. Scaling that by 100 times would have solar lightning channels far below the limit of telescopic resolution

However, there is another familiar form of atmospheric electric discharge that does scale appropriately and could explain the mysterious dark cores of penumbral filaments. It is the tornado! Tornadoes last for minutes and can have a diameter of the order of one kilometer. Scale those figures up 100 times and we match penumbral filaments very well. And if the circulating cylinder of plasma is radiating heat and light, as we see on the Sun, then the solar “tornado” will appear, side on, to have bright edges and a dark core (right image, above).

XRT Observes Corona of Million Degrees January 6, 2007

Posted by jtintle in Space Fotos, Sun.
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Credit:

ISAS/JAXA, NAOJ/NINS, NASA, PPARC

Description:

In the press conference held on 20 December 2006, latest data and movie from X-Ray Telescope (XRT) had been released. XRT observes corona of million degrees. It is still a mystery how the corona is heated to that high temperature. This movie show activity of solar corona for 12 days. An active region goes behind the west limb while another one comes from east limb. Ubiquitous small brightenings suggest magnetic activity is taking place all around the Sun.

A Backward Sunspot and the New Solar Cycle August 30, 2006

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See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.
Credit:

MDI, SOHO, ESA, NASA

Explanation:

Why is sunspot 905 backwards? Perhaps it is a key marker for the beginning of a new magnetic cycle on our Sun. Every 11 years, our Sun goes through a magnetic cycle, at the end of which its overall magnetic orientation is reversed. An 11-year solar cycle has been observed for hundreds of years by noting peaks and valleys in the average number of sunspots. Just now, the Sun is near Solar Minimum, and likely to start a long progression toward the most active time, called Solar Maximum, in about 5.5 years. An indicator that the sun’s magnetic field is reversing is the appearance of sunspots with the reverse magnetic polarity than normal. A few weeks ago, one small candidate reverse sunspot was sighted but faded quickly. Now, however, a larger sunspot with negative polarity is being tracked. This sunspot, numbered 905, appears as the unusual white spot in the above magnetic image of the Sun taken with the SOHO spacecraft a few days ago. In the past few days, Sunspot 905 has actually begun to break apart and might also become the source of coronal mass ejections and explosive solar flares. Solar astronomers predict that the coming Solar Maximum will be unusually active.

Sunspot Loops in Ultraviolet June 11, 2006

Posted by jtintle in NASA, Planets, Space Agencies, Space Fotos, Sun, Sun Spot.
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See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.
Credit:

TRACE Project, NASA

Explanation:

It was a quiet day on the Sun. The above image shows, however, that even during off days the Sun's surface is a busy place. Shown in ultraviolet light, the relatively cool dark regions have temperatures of thousands of degrees Celsius. Large sunspot group AR 9169 is visible as the bright area near the horizon. The bright glowing gas flowing around the sunspots has a temperature of over one million degrees Celsius. The reason for the high temperatures is unknown but thought to be related to the rapidly changing magnetic field loops that channel solar plasma. Sunspot group AR 9169 moved across the Sun during 2000 September and decayed in a few weeks.

Out on the Fringe June 11, 2006

Posted by jtintle in European Space Agency, NASA, Planets, Satellite, SOHO, Space Agencies, Space Fotos, Sun.
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Credit:

SOHO, ESA, NASA

Description:

The Sun this week showed off a variety of small prominences, so many that they could be described as a kind of fringe. While these prominences lasted for several days, they were most prolific on May 26, 2006. On that day one could count five or six of these smaller prominences sprouting out along the edge of the Sun as seen from SOHO. These are more prominences than are usually seen around the Sun and amateur solar observers are having a field day with them.

Prominences are cooler clouds of gas suspended above the surface of the Sun. They are controlled by powerful magnetic forces and we are witnessing the force a magnetic field exerts on the plasma (that is, electrically charged material) trying to move across the field.

Coronal mass ejections sometimes reach out in the direction of Earth May 25, 2006

Posted by jtintle in European Space Agency, NASA, Planets, SOHO, Space Fotos, Sun.
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 Credits:

SOHO/LASCO/EIT (ESA & NASA)
Description:
This illustration shows a CME blasting off the Sun’s surface in the direction of Earth. This left portion is composed of an EIT 304 image superimposed on a LASCO C2 coronagraph. Two to four days later, the CME cloud is shown striking and beginning to be mostly deflected around the Earth’s magnetosphere. The blue paths emanating from the Earth’s poles represent some of its magnetic field lines. The magnetic cloud of plasma can extend to 30 million miles wide by the time it reaches earth. These storms, which occur frequently, can disrupt communications and navigational equipment, damage satellites, and even cause blackouts.
 

The Dark Shows the Light May 9, 2006

Posted by jtintle in NASA, SOHO, Solar Flares, Space Fotos, Sun.
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A small flare and associated coronal mass ejection (CME) were observed on May 1, 2006. The still image shows the flare near its peak of activity as an intensely white area at the lower end of the active region on the right of the pair of active regions (it looks like a backwards 7). The video covers a 13-hour period and is especially good at showing the dimming of the region south of the event. This is caused by the sudden but temporary release of charged particles from that area. Brighter post coronal loops can be seen coiled over the source of the flare after the events. Flares are the most powerful events in the solar system, since power is measured by the release of energy, in this case radiative energy, per unit time. This event, however, was a rather weak, "C-class" flare.

The CME was most probably associated with this flare. A CME is a lower power event because it occurs over a much longer time period, but carries lots of mechanical (kinetic) and magnetic (potential) energy). In fact CMEs blast out over a billion of tons of particles at millions of miles per hour.

Sunspot 875 Flares May 2, 2006

Posted by jtintle in APoD, NASA, Solar Flares, Space Fotos, Sun.
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See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.  
Credit & Copyright: Greg Piepol (sungazer.net)

Explanation: An unusually active sunspot region is now crossing the Sun. The region, numbered 875, is larger than the Earth and has produced several solar flares over the past week. It should take a few more days for Sunspot 875 to finish crossing the solar disk. The above image of the Sun was taken last Wednesday in a very specific color of red light to bring up detail. Sunspot 875, in the midst of erupting a large Class C solar flare, can be seen as the dark region to the upper right. In the above image, relatively cool regions appear dark while hot regions appear bright. On the far left, solar prominences are visible hovering above the Sun’s surface.

A Solar Prominence from SOHO April 18, 2006

Posted by jtintle in APoD, European Space Agency, NASA, SOHO, Solar Flares, Space Fotos.
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See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.
Credit: SOHO-EIT Consortium, ESA, NASA

Explanation: How can gas float above the Sun? Twisted magnetic fields arching from the solar surface can trap ionized gas, suspending it in huge looping structures. These majestic plasma arches are seen as prominences above the solar limb. In September 1999, this dramatic and detailed image was recorded by the EIT experiment on board the space-based SOHO observatory in the light emitted by ionized Helium. It shows hot plasma escaping into space as a fiery prominence breaks free from magnetic confinement a hundred thousand kilometers above the Sun. These awesome events bear watching as they can affect communications and power systems over 100 million kilometers away on Planet Earth

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