Towering Coils


This video clip covers about 36 hours of Solar activity as seen by the Solar Dynamics Observatory in January, 2014.  A large active region sported tall coils of magnetic field lines that stretched many times the size of Earth above the Sun. When viewed in extreme ultraviolet light, the field lines are revealed as particles move along them. Some lines connect with another active region that has rotated out of view. This close-up also shows darker, cooler plasma just above the surface being tugged back and forth by magnetic forces.

Video Credit: NASA

A Hole on the Sun


coronalholeThe Solar Dynamics Observatory took these images of a large coronal hole on the Sun last week. Coronal holes are the source of a high-speed wind of solar particles that streams off the Sun some three times faster than the normal solar wind. It’s not clear what causes coronal holes, but they correlate to areas on the Sun where magnetic fields flow away from the surface without looping back as they do elsewhere.

Image Credit: NASA

5 Years of the Sun


The Solar Dynamics Observatory was launched five years ago yesterday. This time-lapse video was assembled from SDO data from in June, 2010, until last week. The data rate is three frames per day. The different colors represent the different wavelengths used by SDO to observe the Sun.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-41gAPmUG0]

Video Credit: NASA

Magnetic Fields


Magnetic field lines on the Sun arch and twist above active regions and occasionally reach out to connect to each other. In this time lapse video taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory, the field lines are revealed in extreme ultraviolet light by charged particles that spiral along them.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_CNSXe0-Cw]

Video Credit: NASA

Towering Coils


The video clip covers about 36 hours of Solar activity as seen by the Solar Dynamics Observatory on 15 and 15 January, 2014.  A large active region sported tall coils of magnetic field lines that stretched many times the size of Earth above the Sun. When viewed in extreme ultraviolet light, the field lines are revealed as particles move along them. Some lines connect with another active region that has rotated out of view. This close-up also shows darker, cooler plasma just above the surface being tugged back and forth by magnetic forces.

Video Credit: NASA

Solar Flare


The Sun just threw a filament. At the end of last month, a long standing solar filament suddenly erupted producing an energetic Coronal Mass Ejection (CME). The filament had been held up for days by the Sun’s magnetic field, and the timing of the eruption was unexpected. The resulting explosion shot electrons and ions outward, some of which arrived at Earth three days later and smacked into Earth’s magnetosphere. The result was visible as aurorae. Loops of plasma surrounding an active region can be seen above the erupting filament in this ultraviolet image taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.

If you missed that auroral display, don’t worry. Over the next two years, the Sun will be experiencing a solar maximum of activity which promises to produce more CMEs that induce more Earthly auroras. The active Sun will also improve HF and low VHF propagation, much to the pleasure of ham radio operators like me.

Image Credit: NASA