sep 252012
Scientists Shed Light on Riddle of Sun's Explosive Events

  Four decades of active research and debate by the solar physics community have failed to bring consensus on what drives the Sun’s powerful coronal mass ejections (CMEs) that can have profound “space weather” effects on Earth-based power grids and satellites in near-Earth geospace.  A computer visualization of the Sun (red sphere) and its magnetic [continue reading]

sep 222012
Peering Into Coronal Prominence Cavities

  The Sun’s atmosphere dances. Giant columns of solar material – made of gas so hot that many of the electrons have been scorched off the atoms, turning it into a form of magnetized matter we call plasma – leap off the Sun’s surface, jumping and twisting. Sometimes these prominences of solar material, shoot off, [continue reading]

aug 272012
 The Van Allen Radiation Belts to be Examined

  A University of Minnesota-led experiment is aboard NASA’s Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP) mission, a probe of the forces that govern radiation in the Van Allen Radiation Belts. These two concentric, doughnut-shaped regions of space girdle the Earth and pose radiation danger to astronauts and spacecraft. The twin RBSP satellites and the Van Allen [continue reading]

aug 142012
New Warning System Could Predict Solar Flares

  Researchers may have discovered a new method to predict solar flares more than a day before they occur, providing advance warning to help protect satellites, power grids and astronauts from potentially dangerous radiation. This image from the Solar Dynamics Observatory’s Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) shows in great detail a solar flare and its prominence taken [continue reading]

aug 142012
One of the Fastest CMEs On Record Observed

  Some three weeks ago, on July 23, 2012, a massive cloud of solar material erupted off the Sun’s right side, zooming out into space, passing one of NASA’s Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory (STEREO) spacecraft along the way. Using the STEREO data, scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center clocked this giant cloud, known as [continue reading]

jul 032012
Clues to Solar Storms

  Doppler measurements that help track storms on Earth may also be useful for understanding storms on the sun. Left, image of hot (1.8-million degree Fahrenheit) active region loops. Right, flows of solar plasma (blue shifts). Credit: SDO/AIA (NASA and Hinode/EIS (JAXA, NASA, ESA and STFC) A Rice University astrophysicist is part of an international [continue reading]