Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Coronal Fire

The universe is amazing.  The things we’ve been able to see or discover are miniscule to the wonders that are still out there.  That’s why science is so fantastic, because it’s pretty much discovering or explaining all of the awesome things around us.  Having lived in Florida for most of my life, I’m pretty protective of our space program.  Watching year’s worth of shuttle and rocket launches will do that to you.

The above video is from NASA.  I am not a scientist, although I’ve played one on TV.  No, that’s a lie too.  I’m going to let NASA explain what is going on here, because they can do it better than I can. 

Eruptive events on the sun can be wildly different. Some come just with a solar flare, some with an additional ejection of solar material called a coronal mass ejection (CME), and some with complex moving structures in association with changes in magnetic field lines that loop up into the sun's atmosphere, the corona.

On July 19, 2012, an eruption occurred on the sun that produced all three. A moderately powerful solar flare exploded on the sun's lower right hand limb, sending out light and radiation. Next came a CME, which shot off to the right out into space. And then, the sun treated viewers to one of its dazzling magnetic displays -- a phenomenon known as coronal rain.

Over the course of the next day, hot plasma in the corona cooled and condensed along strong magnetic fields in the region. Magnetic fields, themselves, are invisible, but the charged plasma is forced to move along the lines, showing up brightly in the extreme ultraviolet wavelength of 304 Angstroms, which highlights material at a temperature of about 50,000 Kelvin. This plasma acts as a tracer, helping scientists watch the dance of magnetic fields on the sun, outlining the fields as it slowly falls back to the solar surface.

The footage in this video was collected by the Solar Dynamics Observatory's AIA instrument. SDO collected one frame every 12 seconds, and the movie plays at 30 frames per second, so each second in this video corresponds to 6 minutes of real time. The video covers 12:30 a.m. EDT to 10:00 p.m. EDT on July 19, 2012.  Music: "Thunderbolt" by Lars Leonhard, courtesy of artist.


  1. You're so right about science! It's mind-blowing at times. This video is wicked awesome.

  2. Wow, if that was on a longer loop that would be amazing for meditation!



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