Added 1 new A* page:Heyyyy it's that time of week where I say hey, go check out my weekend fairy tale comic "The Princess and the Giant," and there will even be a new page on Sunday! Although it might be in the evening rather than my usual early afternoon time this time since different people are wanting to hang out at different times than my usual Sunday hangouts, I think. Oh social life, so complicated. However, a new Princess comic will certainly still occur at some point two days (I'm pretending it's still Friday since this is "Friday's" A* page, you see :P) hence, and just so you're up to date, get a load of last Sunday's page by clicking this preview banner:|
And it doesn't hurt to end the weekly A* news column with a visual splash, so how about this:
image by NASA (source)
That's a coronal mass ejection ("CME") captured by NASA's Solary Dynamics Observatory ("SDO") a few days ago; it was associated with an M2-class solar flare, which is just a medium-sized one (about 1/10th as powerful as the X2 flare in February, which was the largest in four years), but the CME was a remarkably splashy one, appearing to cover about half the solar surface as it fell back into the Sun. Also, scientists were surprised to find that some of the stuff ejected in the event was, by the standards of the Sun's corona, which runs temperatures in the millions of degrees, very cool--a mere 80,000 K, for instance.
So they aren't quite sure how that happened; CME's are thought to be powered by fluxes in the magnetic field lines of the Sun's corona, and gas that cool isn't usually found there (the Sun's surface, by contrast, can be a cool sub-6000 K).
Anyway, here are some nifty videos of the event:
- Captured in ultraviolet light by the SDO (like the above photo):
- As seen in composite wavelengths by the SDO, with x-ray readings in the chart at the top:
- As seen by NASA's STEREO A:
Stereo A and Stereo B are NASA's two STEREO spacecraft, launched in 2006; they were sent along slightly different slingshot paths around the Moon, which brought them back to different spots in Earth's orbit around the Sun: one in front, and one behind. Since then, they've drifted farther apart along our orbit, and just this February they reached opposite sides of the Sun, so together they can now give us a complete view of the entire Sun!
And early on they made their famous wiggly sun image, which I see I posted the large version of on the forum last year, but here's a smaller version that won't stress the front page too much more than I already am...
image by NASA (source)
Keen. Also keen is the Solar Superstorm, a four (?) day period in 1859 of intense solar flare activity--so intense it's estimated (from examining nitrate layers in deep soil cores) to happen just once every 500 years. The largest of the flares, the "Carrington Super Flare" after the guy who observed it, is thought to have been the largest solar flare in recorded history. The intense solar activity was accompanied by the largest recorded geomagnetic storm, with very bright aurorae seen around the world--even in the Caribbean!--and telegraph failures throughout Europe and North America, with telegraph feedback shocking some operators, and even starting fires. Let's hope we've really got another oh 350 years before the Sun pulls another stunt like that!