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  TRACE and coronal loopsAug 24, 2011 12:49 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:I came across an interesting "modern noir crime graphic novel" being published for now in webcomic format, caled Running With a Gun. Very neat black and white art.
 
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Well it was a while back now (I keep coming across other things I want to talk about while looking things up, so now I have a considerable stuff-to-talk-about backlog!) that I was talking about active regions on the Sun--sunspots, for instance. A much cooler-looking active region type, though, are coronal loops: magnetic field lines that emerge and loop back into the Sun, and which are filled with solar plasma caught in the magnetic tube of the field line. Some nifty examples of coronal loops:
 
Image
image by NASA (source)
 
Image
image by NASA (source)
 
Those images were captured by NASA's TRACE satellite ("Transition Region and Coronal Explorer" -- active 1998-2010), whose primary mission was studying coronal loops. To really get a feel for the amazing quality of TRACE's cameras, though, you've got to check out the videos it captured of many loops and solar flares; there are a lot of them, and they are available for download here, mostly in .mov format. I suggest sampling through a bunch of them, but if you just want to check out a few, 57, 84, 85, 103 and 104 are some of my favorites. Oh, and in 96, you can see a coronal mass ejection, where a big part of the surface wells up like a bubble which then bursts, flinging solar material into space.
 
Here's a mosaic of TRACE images, put together to show the whole Sun; the red, green and blue are false color, from passes at three different wavelengths:
 
Image
image by NASA (source)
 
It's worth mentioning though that it was actually the Japanese Yohkoh satellite (that's "Sunbeam" in Japanese) that really kicked off the study of coronal loops. It was active from 1991 to 2001.
 
 
 
 
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