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 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]

aug 012012
Waves in Magnetosphere's Thin Boundaries

  Exploiting a favourable configuration of ESA’s Cluster mission spacecraft, scientists have detected and characterised lower hybrid drift waves, a special kind of plasma waves that develop in thin boundaries both in space and in the laboratory. The measurement of fundamental properties of these waves was possible when two of the spacecraft were flying very [continue reading]

jul 192012
NASA will Study Plasma in Earth's Atmosphere

  Our day-to-day lives exist in what physicists would call an electrically neutral environment. Desks, books, chairs and bodies don’t generally carry electricity and they don’t stick to magnets. But life on Earth is substantially different from, well, almost everywhere else. Beyond Earth’s protective atmosphere and extending all the way through interplanetary space, electrified particles [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]