Monday, October 22, 2012

Solar Plasma bigger than Earth unleashed

Giant wave of plasma greater than the size of Earth erupted from the Sun this past weekend. This towering arc was picked up NASA’s Solar Dynamics observatory. Launched in 2010, this observatory is intended to maintain a watch on the Sun for about three more years. The satellite was assembled at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland with a collection of onboard tools from the Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment (EVE), the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) and lastly the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA). Together these allow the SDO to maintain a close watch on solar activity and understand its effect on the Earth.

There is no fear of Earth receiving this most recent eruption as it was sent off outward away from Earth. The whole process took ten hours stretching out to the size of many times the Earth. Appearing as a stringy red and orange wave that burst forward from the lower right section of the Sun it arced out away from the Earth. The prominence is an eruption that is charged solar plasma. Lasting only minutes this loop shaped prominence is rather short lived though others can last up to hours or days.

One of the main objectives of the Solar Observatory is to monitor these events and provide Earth’s scientists with images that they may then utilizes very artsy techniques such as one called “gradient filter”. Through this the areas of the greatest contrast are highlighted the making the structures sharp and well defined and helping the scientists to better understand this process. Observing this phenomenon allows them to better understand how the massive Solar flares and CME’s (Coronal Mass Ejections) and the Sun’s magnetic fields interrelate. Often the observations require a numerical/mathematical rendering to be able to get at the data they require.

Hopefully they learn everything they need to know as next year promises to be the Sun’s most active year in its 11 year cycle.

No comments:

Post a Comment