Is it a disco ball? A glowing hairball? An orb-like alien with tendrils?
Nope, that’s our sun.
In this video from NASA, solar researcher Holly Gilbert explains a gorgeous dynamic computer model of the Sun’s magnetic fields. The pink and green lines are open magnetic field lines, extending into space, while their counterparts, the white closed magnetic field lines emanate from and then circle back towards the sun’s surface.
In addition to just being fascinating, understanding how the Sun’s magnetic field works can help us better prepare for solar storms, or coronal mass ejections, events that can disrupt the function of electrical grids, GPS devices, and other technology here on Earth.
Researchers hope that computer models like this one, combined with observations from satellites, and even Cubesats will help make predicting and preparing for those events easier.