‘Solar Tsunami’ Gives Scientists Clues About What Makes the Sun Explode


The Sun erupting in ‘solar tsunami’ which sparked incredible Northern Lights displays across the northern hemisphere in August.

It was the breathtaking solar event that sparked spectacular displays of Northern Lights across much of the northern hemisphere. In August the sun’s surface suddenly erupted and blasted tons of plasma – ionised atoms – into interplanetary space. It took two days for the atoms to travel the 93million miles to Earth.


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Secrets of Exploding Plasma Clouds on the Sun

Coronal mass ejections seen on sun!

The Sun sporadically expels trillions of tons of million-degree hydrogen gas in explosions called coronal mass ejections (CMEs). Such clouds are enormous in size (spanning millions of miles) and are made up of magnetized plasma gases, so hot that hydrogen atoms are ionized.

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Scientists Explain Puzzling Lake Asymmetry on Saturn’s Moon Titan


This image shows the northern and southern hemispheres of Titan, showing the disparity between the abundance of lakes in the north and their paucity in the South.

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) suggest that the eccentricity of Saturn’s orbit around the sun may be responsible for the unusually uneven distribution of methane and ethane lakes over the northern and southern polar regions of the planet’s largest moon, Titan. On Earth, similar “astronomical forcing” of climate drives ice-age cycles.

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Solar Winds Triggered by Magnetic Fields


XRT Full Sun (Synoptic).

Solar wind generated by the sun is probably driven by a process involving powerful magnetic fields, according to a new study led by UCL (University College London) researchers based on the latest observations from the Hinode satellite.

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Bubbling Ball of Gas: SUNRISE Telescope Delivers Spectacular Pictures of Sun’s Surface


The IMaX instrument not only depicts the solar surface, it also makes magnetic fields visible; these appear as black or white structures in the polarised light.

The Sun is a bubbling mass. Packages of gas rise and sink, lending the sun its grainy surface structure, its granulation. Dark spots appear and disappear, clouds of matter dart up — and behind the whole thing are the magnetic fields, the engines of it all. The SUNRISE balloon-borne telescope, a collaborative project between the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Katlenburg-Lindau and partners in Germany, Spain and the USA, has now delivered images that show the complex interplay on the solar surface to a level of detail never before achieved.

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Cosmic Rays Hit Space Age High


An artist’s concept of the heliosphere, a magnetic bubble that partially protects the solar system from cosmic rays.

Planning a trip to Mars? Take plenty of shielding. According to sensors on NASA’s ACE (Advanced Composition Explorer) spacecraft, galactic cosmic rays have just hit a Space Age high.

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New Transient Radiation Belt Discovered Around Saturn


Radiation belt map of the ions with energies between 25-60 MeV, in Saturn’s magnetosphere, based on several years of Cassini MIMI/LEMMS data.

Scientists using the Cassini spacecraft’s Magnetospheric Imaging instrument (MIMI) have detected a new, temporary radiation belt at Saturn, located around the orbit of its moon Dione at about 377,000 km from the center of the planet. Continue reading… “New Transient Radiation Belt Discovered Around Saturn”


Surprise In Earth’s Upper Atmosphere: Mode Of Energy Transfer From The Solar Wind


In addition to emitting electromagnetic radiation, the sun emits a stream of ionized particles called the solar wind that affects Earth and other planets in the solar system.

UCLA atmospheric scientists have discovered a previously unknown basic mode of energy transfer from the solar wind to the Earth’s magnetosphere. The research, federally funded by the National Science Foundation, could improve the safety and reliability of spacecraft that operate in the upper atmosphere. Continue reading… “Surprise In Earth’s Upper Atmosphere: Mode Of Energy Transfer From The Solar Wind”