okt 032012
 
The Science Behind those Eye-Popping Northern Lights

  Northern night skies have recently been alive with light. Those shimmering curtains get their start about 93 million miles away, on the Sun. An image of an aurora borealis, and moonrise in the Brooks Range in northern Alaska at the Chandler Shelf in December 2008. Image Credit: guardian.co.uk/Rolf Hicker/Barcroft Media  An aurora borealis (aurora australis [continue reading]

sep 282012
 
'Flashy' Secrets of Merging Black Holes Uncovered

  According to Einstein, whenever massive objects interact, they produce gravitational waves — distortions in the very fabric of space and time — that ripple outward across the Universe at the speed of light. While astronomers have found indirect evidence of these disturbances, the waves have so far eluded direct detection. Ground-based observatories designed to [continue reading]

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 192012
 
How the Solar Wind Heats Up When it Should Not

  New research led by University of Warwick physicist Dr Kareem Osman has provided significant insight into how the solar wind heats up when it should not. The solar wind rushes outwards from the raging inferno that is our Sun, but from then on the wind should only get cooler as it expands beyond our [continue reading]