Spacecraft Sees Giant 'Hole' In the Sun

Discussion in 'Anything But Football' started by short faced bear, Jul 29, 2013.

  1. short faced bear

    short faced bear

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    A space telescope aimed at the sun has spotted a gigantic hole in the solar atmosphere — a dark spot that covers nearly a quarter of our closest star, spewing solar material and gas into space.

    The so-called coronal hole over the sun's north pole came into view between July 13 and 18 and was observed by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO. NASA released a video of the sun hole as seen by the SOHO spacecraft, showing the region as a vast dark spot surrounded by solar activity.

    [​IMG]

    Coronal holes are darker, cooler regions of the sun's atmosphere, or corona, containing little solar material. In these gaps, magnetic field lines whip out into the solar wind rather than looping back to the sun's surface. Coronal holes can affect space weather, as they send solar particles streaming off the sun about three times faster than the slower wind unleashed elsewhere from the sun's atmosphere, according to a description from NASA.

    "While it’s unclear what causes coronal holes, they correlate to areas on the sun where magnetic fields soar up and away, failing to loop back down to the surface, as they do elsewhere," NASA's Karen Fox at the agency's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., explained in an image description.

    These holes are not uncommon, but their frequency changes with the solar activity cycle. The sun is currently reaching its 11-year peak in activity, known as the solar maximum. Around the time of this peak, the sun's poles switch their magnetism. The number of coronal holes typically decreases leading up to the switch.

    After the reversal, new coronal holes appear near the poles. Then as the sun approaches the solar minimum again, the holes creep closer to the equator, growing in both size and number, according to NASA.

    The $1.27-billion (1 billion euros) SOHO satellite was launched in 1995 and is flying a joint mission between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). It watches solar activity from an orbit about the Lagrange Point 1, a gravitationally stable spot between Earth and the sun that is about 932,000 miles (1.5 million kilometers) from our planet.


    http://news.yahoo.com/spacecraft-sees-giant-hole-sun-video-153040642.html
  2. motownbear

    motownbear derp daderp daderpidity derp Staff Member

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    is this why the weather this summer blows
  3. riczaj01

    riczaj01

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    I saw a giant hole last night.....wait this isn't TBS, nevermind. :mad:
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  4. BlackDiamond

    BlackDiamond

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    Better find our receipt, this sun is supposed to last another billion years
  5. short faced bear

    short faced bear

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    Sun's magnetic field "is about to flip", warns NASA

    The whole of the sun's magnetic field is about to "flip", according to NASA - with warning signs being spotted by observatories around the world this year.

    The whole of the sun's magnetic field is about to "flip", according to NASA - with warning signs being spotted by observatories around the world this year.

    This "flip" happens every 11 years, and coincides with the greatest solar activity in the "cycles" of the sun, known as "Solar Maximum" - with sunspots and "coronal mass ejections" on the surface of the sun.

    "It looks like we're no more than 3 to 4 months away from a complete field reversal," says solar physicist Todd Hoeksema of Stanford University. "This change will have ripple effects throughout the solar system."

    The effects are so powerful they will be felt beyond Pluto - and may affect phenomena such as cosmic rays, which some believe can alter the climate on Earth.

    Scientists have recorded these "flips" for decades, but the process is still not fully understood. This particular "flip" has already puzzled scientists - with one magnetic pole of the sun appearing to flip "too early" last year.

    "Right now, there's an imbalance between the north and the south poles," Jonathan Cirtain, a space scientist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center said last year. "The north is already in transition, well ahead of the south pole, and we don't understand why."

    The flips, though, are regular. The sun's magnetic field changes polarity roughly every 11 years - caused by the magnetic dynamo inside the sun reorganising itself.

    Magnetograms at Stanford's Wilcox Solar Observatory - one of the few observatories that track the sun's magnetic fields - have been tracking the sun's polar magnetism since 1976, and they have recorded three grand reversals, with a fourth in the offing.

    Solar physicist Phil Scherrer, also at Stanford, describes what happens: "The sun's polar magnetic fields weaken, go to zero, and then emerge again with the opposite polarity. This is a regular part of the solar cycle."

    The sun's magnetic influence (also known as the "heliosphere") extends billions of kilometers beyond Pluto - changes to the field's polarity ripple all the way out to NASA's Voyager probes, on the doorstep of interstellar space.

    When solar physicists talk about solar field reversals, their conversation often centers on the "current sheet."

    The current sheet is a sprawling surface jutting outward from the sun's equator where the sun's slowly-rotating magnetic field induces an electrical current.

    During field reversals, the current sheet becomes very wavy - Scherrer likens the undulations to the seams on a baseball. As Earth orbits the sun, we dip in and out of the current sheet. Transitions from one side to another can stir up stormy space weather around our planet.

    Cosmic rays are also affected. These are high-energy particles accelerated to nearly light speed by supernova explosions and other violent events in the galaxy.

    Cosmic rays are a danger to astronauts and space probes, and some researchers say they might affect the cloudiness and climate of Earth.

    The current sheet acts as a barrier to cosmic rays, deflecting them as they attempt to penetrate the inner solar system. A wavy, crinkly sheet acts as a better shield against these energetic particles from deep space.

    As the field reversal approaches, data from Wilcox show that the sun's two hemispheres are out of synch.

    "The sun's north pole has already changed sign, while the south pole is racing to catch up," says Scherrer. "Soon, however, both poles will be reversed, and the second half of Solar Max will be underway."
  6. Mr. Deliverance

    Mr. Deliverance Guest

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    That's pretty cool.
  7. vmx12

    vmx12

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    I love reading anything about space on Yahoo then checkout the comments. Full of bible thumpers and science enthusiasts attacking one another.
  8. EternalChampion

    EternalChampion

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    It's the solar cloaca
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