NASA captures close-up details of solar storm for first time
NASA’s revolutionary solar observatory has captured rare footage of super-hot bubbles on the sun’s surface, known as coronal mass ejections. “The field of view seen here is about five Earths wide and about seven-and-a-half Earths tall,” NASA said in a description of the video, which shows the sun emitting flares into space.
What is a solar flare?
A solar flare is a sudden flash of brightness observed over the Sun‘s surface or the solar limb, which is interpreted as a large energy release. The flare ejects clouds of electrons, ions, and atoms through the corona of the sun into space.
What are coronal mass ejections?
Coronal mass ejections, also known as a (CME) are usually what follows a solar flare. They are similar to solar flares, but they eject plasma into space and can take hours or days to reach Earth. When these charged particles reach Earth, they can create a geomagnetic storm as they are trapped at our magnetic poles.
The seven-foot ultraviolet telescope was launched into space in June 2013. It is able to peer into the lowest levels of the sun’s atmosphere to observe how solar material moves, gathers energy, and heats up. It then documents the details using higher resolution imaging than ever before.
To capture the phenomenon, IRIS (Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph) must be pointed at the sun one day ahead of time. It “involves some educated guesses and a degree of luck,” as it only covers a relatively small zone of the sun at any given time, according to NASA.
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