Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Sun...Up Close and Personal....Credit, Solar Dynamics Observatory/NASA.

 
NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory photos of the sun

In profile, the magnetic field lines emerging from several active regions were easily observed as they reached across from one magnetic pole to another (Sept. 4-5, 2013). When viewed in extreme ultraviolet light, the tracings of charged particles along the magnetic field lines are revealed. The bright, active regions are areas of intense magnetic forces. This level of detail for the entire Sun has never been available before the SDO mission became operational. The video clip covers about 18 hours of activity

 
 NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory photos of the sun
 
Elements of a feathery solar prominence shifted and twisted before finally erupting into space as observed in extreme ultraviolet light by SDO (Aug. 14-15, 2013). The dark matter that we see in the prominence is actually part of cooler gases suspended above the Sun's surface by powerful though unstable magnetic forces. The triggering mechanism is not well understood, but some change caused the prominence to break away from the Sun, a fairly common phenomenon.
 
 
NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory photos of the sun
 
When you put one-month videos of the Sun from periods about 2.5 years apart, the increase in solar activity is remarkable. We took video from October, 2010 and set it next to video from May, 2013 in the 171 Angstrom wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light. The number and intensity of active regions, seen as brighter areas and numerous loops above them, increased dramatically as the Sun is approaching its maximum level of activity which is expected to occur either late 2013 or early 2014
 
 
NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory photos of the sun
 
If you ever wanted to see an active Sun with lots of sunspots and wonderful active regions in exquisite detail, then your wait is over. We took pairs of high-resolution images from Dec. 4, 2011 about eight hours apart and with some image software magic transformed them into 3-D. The Sun appears rounded and the loops above active regions clearly stand out above the Sunâs surface. Of course, you need 3-D glasses to get the effect. The movie starts with the sunspot image, fades into the extreme ultraviolet image (in the AIA 171 wavelength of light), and then back again several times. To create the 3-D effect, we selected an initial image, then a second image about 10 hours later. The rotation of the Sun creates sufficient perspective difference to convert the pair into 3-D. Note how the magnetically intense sunspots at the surface match up precisely with loops of magnetic field lines (viewed in UV light) arcing above them.
 
 
NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory photos of the sun
 
When viewed in profile, the intricate series of looping magnetic field lines appear graceful and well designed. In fact these very hot and energetic connections emerged from beneath the surface where powerful magnetic forces are engaged in a huge tug of war.
 
 
NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory photos of the sun
 
Two active regions rotating into view demonstrated quite clearly that they were ready for action (Nov. 11-13, 2013). The regions, viewed in a wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light, were spurting and flaring in a rapid-fire style as their tangled magnetic fields struggled against each other. Towards the end a prominence near the upper left erupted while a flare, seen as a white flash, burst from the leading region.
 

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