Tuesday, November 20, 2012

NASA Sun Observer Captures Two Solar Eruptions

NASA Sun Observer Captures Two Solar Eruptions Over Four Hours. On November 13, the Sun emitted an M6 classification solar flare, one of the weakest designations still able to cause some disturbances on Earth. Now, just a few days later, the Sun is at it again. NASA’s Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO) caught spectacular images and video of the Sun bursting with two prominence eruptions over a four-hour period on November 16, between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. EST. The SDO captured the event in the 304 Angstrom wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light.

While some solar flares can potentially disrupt satellites and electrical systems around Earth, this latest “double trouble” eruption was aimed away from the third rock from the Sun, so we should be out of harm’s way. The event was nothing less than stunning, as the short NASA video shows a red-glowing loop of plasma shooting out from the surface of the Sun. The plasma loop was so massive it shot out past the range of the SDO’s view. According to NASA, the prominence plasma flows along a tangled and twisted structure of magnetic fields generated by the sun’s internal dynamo. When the structure becomes unstable, a prominence erupts and bursts outward, releasing plasma. When these prominence eruptions occur in the direction of the Earth, harmful radiation is sent hurtling across space. While the radiation cannot penetrate the planet’s atmosphere, affecting the surface, it does pose a threat to precious objects, such as GPS and scientific satellites, as well as the International Space Station, orbiting the Earth.

The disruptions caused from radiation can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours, depending on the size of the eruptions the radiation hails from. The Sun erupted with two prominence eruptions, one after the other over a four-hour period (Nov. 16, 2012). The action was captured in the 304 Angstrom wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light. It seems possible that the disruption to the Sun’s magnetic field might have triggered the second event since they were in relatively close proximity to each other. The expanding particle clouds heading into space do not appear to be Earth-directed.

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