The shuttle about to dock with the ISS, silhouetted against the sun.
Bringing science to the people
It has baffled scientists for while now why the Sun’s atmosphere is hotter than its surface; a situation akin to having to shed clothing as you climbed Mt. Everest. Recent mathematical and astrophysics research from the University of Sheffield indicates that there are many magnetic plasma vortices (tornadoes) that bring up energy from inside the Sun and release it into the atmosphere. They’re relatively small compared to some of the ones that make the news occasionally, but still reach sizes greater than Great Britain and temperatures of several millions degrees kelvin.
Not only is the research answering questions about space, but the applications are important here too. If we can learn to use similar magnetic fields to control plasma here, there are ways to produce clean, green energy. The more ways we can do that, the better!
Voyager I is about to break into interstellar space – past the edge of our solar system. Or it may have already, we aren’t sure. What we do know is that it’s being bombarded by a lot more cosmic particles that are abundant outside of our solar system, but the sun keeps from entering it. The exact edge of the system is a pretty shaky boundary though, so hopefully when a few more calculations come in we can be a little more sure of where it is. 11.1 billion miles is pretty impressive for any little probe though!
This image captures the 171 Angstrom wavelength of extreme ultraviolet, showing plasma in the solar atmosphere, called the corona, that is aroung 600000 Kelvin.
Most people don’t realize that a lot of the really cool pictures of nebulae and such are due to different filters being applied, and that the Pillars of Creation were not actually that color to the naked eye. Far from being manufactured though, I think it shows just how deep and complex everything is, not just the objects themselves but our ability to see them in so many ways. Science is great!
Super Moon? How About a Super Sun!
“On May 5, 2012, while everyone else was waiting for the “Super Moon” astrophotographer Alan Friedman was out capturing this super image of a super Sun from his back yard in Buffalo, NY!
Taken with a specialized telescope that can image the Sun in hydrogen alpha light, Alan’s photo shows the intricate detail of our home star’s chromosphere — the layer just above its “surface”, or photosphere.
Prominences can be seen rising up from the Sun’s limb in several places, and long filaments — magnetically-suspended lines of plasma — arch across its face. The “fuzzy” texture is caused by smaller features called spicules and fibrils, which are short-lived spikes of magnetic fields that rapidly rise up from the surface of the Sun.
On the left side it appears that a prominence may have had just detached from the Sun’s limb, as there’s a faint cloud of material suspended there.”
The clarity of this picture is incredible. I mean, just look at that bit of material that was just expelled! Also, job title: astrophotographer is awesome.