Watching the transit of Venus through telescopes at the local planetarium was impressive, but it was nothing compared to this view from the Solar Dynamics Observatory, the most advanced spacecraft ever built to stare at the sun. SDO captured a high-res view of the event through a series of filters.
Regular readers know that PopSci can’t get enough of huge explosions on the surface of the sun. That puts us in a pretty good place right now, considering the current solar cycle is moving into a period of increased explosive activity. For those who might not understand why we love solar explosions, this video of this morning’s massive solar flare and ensuing solar prominence should reveal all.
Sunspots aren’t static, and NASA has the amazing video footage to prove it. Captured in February, this clip taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory shows how sunspots surface, change, and grow over time as the forces of both convection and the Sun’s powerful magnetic field act upon them.
Yesterday, the vernal equinox, the sun returned to the Northern Hemisphere at last. Nothing here or anywhere else in our corner of the galaxy would exist without the sun, yet a surprising number of solar mysteries persist. Much of heliophysics is focused on “space weather,” predicting what the sun will do. That’s because solar flares and coronal mass ejections spew charged particles and radiation into space, occasionally toward Earth. These seething bursts of energy can jeopardize telecommunications on the ground and in space, not to mention the lives of astronauts.
Scientific observations often has to do with being in the right place at the right time, whether intentionally or not. In a stroke of good luck last Thursday the sun’s rotation, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, and a sizeable M 3.6 class solar flare all lined up to allow SDO to capture a gorgeous profile view of said flare unfolding in high definition.
Last month’s solar storm was pretty stellar, but the massive flare that erupted from the sun yesterday put it to shame, lashing out from the solar surface in a beautiful filament that stretched for 435,000 miles – nearly twice the distance between the Earth and moon and about 60,000 miles larger than last month’s plasma ejection.
Your mom probably told you not to stare directly at the sun, but images like this one are hard to ignore. Captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) back on October 7, the image shows the moon passing between the observatory and the sun, marking the first time SDO has witnessed a lunar transit.
A solar storm that smashed into Earth on April 5 went largely unnoticed by most of us down here on the planet, but a group of engineers at satellite maker Orbital Sciences Corp. have been thinking about it ever since. That's the day Galaxy 15, one of their satellites owned by Intelsat, went radio silent. The satellite is still functioning, going about its daily chores of relaying signals around the globe, but Galaxy 15 is ignoring all commands from handlers on Earth, leading engineers to dub the renegade satellite a "zombiesat."