26
Feb 11

SDO captures huge prominence of the Sun

Credit: NASA/SDO

When a rather large M 3.6 class flare occurred near the edge of the Sun on Feb. 24, 2011, it blew out a gorgeous, waving mass of erupting plasma that swirled and twisted for 90 minutes. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the event in extreme ultraviolet light. Because SDO images are high definition, the team was able to zoom in on the flare and still see exquisite details. And using a cadence of a frame taken every 24 seconds, the sense of motion is, by all appearances, seamless.(download the video)

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6
Feb 11

First STEREO Images of the Entire Sun

Source: NASA

On Super Sun-day, NASA's STEREO spacecraft moved into position to photograph the entire sun--front and back. Researchers say this is a transforming moment in solar physics that could lead to big advances in space weather forecasting.(read more)

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5
Feb 11

NASA will release first views of the entire Sun

Source: NASA News

NASA will score big on super SUN-day at 11 a.m. EST, Sunday, Feb. 6, with the release online of the first complete view of the sun's entire surface and atmosphere.

Seeing the whole sun front and back simultaneously will enable significant advances in space weather forecasting for Earth, and improve planning for future robotic or crewed spacecraft missions throughout the solar system.

These views are the result of observations by NASA's two Solar TErrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) spacecraft. The duo are on diametrically opposite sides of the sun, 180 degrees apart. One is ahead of Earth in its orbit, the other trailing behind.(read more)

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29
Jan 11

The Sun popped off two simultaneous events

Source: NASA-Solar Dynamic Observatory


Double event on the Sun. Credit: NASA/SDO

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) caught the action in freeze-frame splendor when the Sun popped off two events at once on Jan. 28, 2011. These simultaneous flares are usually called “sympathetic” flares.

Scientists that study the Sun have observed nearly simultaneous solar flares occurring in completely different areas of the Sun since long ago, but it was thought these near-synchronous explosions in the solar atmosphere were too far apart to be connected. Development of space observatories that allow pictures of the Sun viewed from different perspectives has allowed to connect these events to the lines of the Sun's magnetic field. (read source)

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13
Jan 11

Sundiving Comet Storm

Credit: NASA Science News


SOHO's 2000th comet, spotted by a Polish amateur astronomer on December 26, 2010.
Credit: SOHO/Karl Battams

The sun has just experienced a storm—not of explosive flares and hot plasma, but of icy comets.

Sundiving comets—a.k.a. "sungrazers"—are nothing new. SOHO typically sees one every few days, plunging inward and disintegrating as solar heat sublimes its volatile ices. But now an  amount 25 comets has hit the Sun in only ten days. (read more)

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12
Jan 11

A Hole in the Sun's Corona

Credits: NASA

NASA has released a video of the Solar Dynamics Observatory showing a solar corona hole observed on January 10th, 2011. Coronal holes are areas of the sun's surface that are the source of open magnetic field lines that head way out into space. They are also the source regions of the fast solar wind, which "blows" at a relatively steady clip of about 3 million km/h.(view at NASA)

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28
Dec 10

Sun layers by SOHO

Source: ESA/ESTEC/SOHO

The SOHO team has released a composite image of the Sun that reveales several layers of the star that heats our planet.

One can virtually peer through layers of the Sun to see different kinds of features using images taken at almost the same time (Dec. 19, 2010). Each STEREO spacecraft images the Sun in four wavelengths of extreme UV light.

People cannot see UV light, but carefully designed instruments can. Frames from each wavelength are colorized so that scientists know instantly which wavelength they are observing. And each wavelength is imaging different material at different layers and temperatures.

By superimposing images on top of one another, and moving from the just above the Sun to further out in the Sun's outer atmosphere, we can illustrate how different features are revealed.

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16
Dec 10

ESA makes the Sun available to everyone

Source: ESA Space Science News

New software developed by ESA makes available online to everyone, everywhere at anytime, the entire library of images from the SOHO solar and heliospheric observatory. Just download the viewer and begin exploring the Sun.


A screenshot from the program JHelioviewer, developed by ESA.
Image credits: ESA JHelioviewer Team

Helioviewer is new visualisation software that enables everyone to explore the Sun. Developed as part of the ESA/NASA Helioviewer Project, it provides a desktop program that enables users to call up images of the Sun from the past 15 years. More than a million images from SOHO can already be accessed, and new images from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory are being added every day. The downloadable JHelioviewer is complemented by the website Helioviewer.org, a web-based image browser.

Helioviewer is new visualisation software that enables everyone to explore the Sun. Developed as part of the ESA/NASA Helioviewer Project, it provides a desktop program that enables users to call up images of the Sun from the past 15 years. More than a million images from SOHO can already be accessed, and new images from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory are being added every day. The downloadable JHelioviewer is complemented by the website Helioviewer.org, a web-based image browser.


Another  screenshot from the program JHelioviewer, developed by ESA.
Image credits: ESA JHelioviewer Team

JHelioviewer is written in the Java programming language, hence the ‘J’ at the beginning of its name. It is open-source software, meaning that all its components are freely available so others can help to improve the program. The code can even be reused for other purposes; it is already being used for Mars data and in medical research. This is because JHelioviewer does not need to download entire datasets, which can often be huge – it can just choose enough data to stream smoothly over the Internet.  (read more)

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16
Dec 10

Global Eruption Rocks the Sun

Source: NASA


Locations of key events are labeled in this extreme ultraviolet image of the sun,
obtained by the Solar Dynamics Observatory on August 1st.
White lines trace the sun's magnetic field.
Image credit: K Schrijver & A. Title

On August 1, 2010, an entire hemisphere of the sun erupted. Filaments of magnetism snapped and exploded, shock waves raced across the stellar surface, billion-ton clouds of hot gas billowed into space. Astronomers knew they had witnessed something big.

It was so big, it may have shattered old ideas about solar activity.

"The August 1st event really opened our eyes," says Karel Schrijver of Lockheed Martin’s Solar and Astrophysics Lab in Palo Alto, CA. "We see that solar storms can be global events, playing out on scales we scarcely imagined before."

For the past three months, Schrijver has been working with fellow Lockheed-Martin solar physicist Alan Title to understand what happened during the "Great Eruption." They had plenty of data: The event was recorded in unprecedented detail by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory and twin STEREO spacecraft. With several colleagues present to offer commentary, they outlined their findings at a press conference today at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.

Explosions on the sun are not localized or isolated events, they announced. Instead, solar activity is interconnected by magnetism over breathtaking distances. Solar flares, tsunamis, coronal mass ejections--they can go off all at once, hundreds of thousands of miles apart, in a dizzyingly-complex concert of violence.

"To predict eruptions we can no longer focus on the magnetic fields of isolated active regions," says Title, "we have to know the surface magnetic field of practically the entire sun."

This revelation increases the work load for space weather forecasters, but it also increases the potential accuracy of their forecasts.(read more)

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30
Jun 10

Proba-2 tracks Sun surging into space

Source: ESA

Proba-2 is a small but innovative member of ESA's spacecraft fleet, crammed with experimental technologies. In its first eight months of life it has already returned more than 90 000 images of the Sun.(read more)

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22
Apr 10

Stunning New Images of the Sun Released by NASA

Source: NASA/SDO

An erupting prominence observed by SDO on March 30, 2010.
The 29 MB movie takes a while to download, but it is worth the wait.
Credit: NASA/SDO.

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory is beaming back stunning new images of the sun, revealing our own star as never seen before. Even veteran solar physicists say they are amazed by the data. Movies and images may be found in today's story from Science@NASA. (read more)

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14
Apr 10

Proba-2 shows solar eruption that touched Earth

Source: ESA

Polar skies glowed with ghostly auroras last week during the biggest geomagnetic storm of 2010. The event owed its origin to a solar eruption a few days earlier – revealed here in high-speed detail by ESA's small Sun-watcher Proba-2.(read more)

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13
Mar 10

Solar 'Current of Fire' Speeds Up

Source: Science@NASA

In yesterday's issue of Science, NASA solar physicist David Hathaway reports that the top of the sun's Great Conveyor Belt has been running at record-high speeds for the past five years.

"I believe this could explain the unusually deep solar minimum we've been experiencing," says Hathaway. "The high speed of the conveyor belt challenges existing models of the solar cycle and it has forced us back to the drawing board for new ideas."

The Great Conveyor Belt is a massive circulating current of fire (hot plasma) within the Sun. It has two branches, north and south, each taking about 40 years to perform one complete circuit. Researchers believe the turning of the belt controls the sunspot cycle. (read more)

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18
Feb 10

3D Sun for the iPhone

Source: NASA

Imagine holding the entire sun in the palm of your hand. Now you can. A new iPhone app developed by NASA-supported programmers delivers a live global view of the sun directly to your cell phone. Users can fly around the star, zoom in on active regions, and monitor solar activity.(read more)

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