You may be familiar with the solar cycle that follows a 22 year process shifting from solar minimum to maximum and back again. It’s a cycle that has been observed for centuries yet predicting its peak has been somewhat challenging. The Sun’s current cycle is approaching maximum activity which brings with it higher numbers of sunspots on its surface, more flares and more coronal mass ejections. A team from India now believe they have discovered a new element of the Sun’s magnetic field allowing them to predict the peak will occur early in 2024.Continue reading “We Should Hit Peak Solar Activity Next Year”
Two astronomers use a pioneering method to suggest that the size of our Sun and the solar radius may be due revision.
Our host star is full of surprises. Studying our Sun is the most essential facet of modern astronomy: not only does Sol provide us with the only example of a star we can study up close, but the energy it provides fuels life on Earth, and the space weather it produces impacts our modern technological civilization.
Now, a new study, titled The Acoustic Size of the Sun suggests that a key parameter in modern astronomy and heliophysics—the diameter of the Sun—may need a slight tweak.Continue reading “The Solar Radius Might Be Slightly Smaller Than We Thought”
A bewildering number of factors and variables led up to the planet we occupy today, where life finds a way to survive and even thrive in the most marginal conditions. The Sun is the catalyst for it all, propelling life on its journey to greater complexity with its steady fusion.
But the Sun is only benign because of Earth’s built-in protection, the magnetosphere. Both the Sun and the magnetosphere have changed over time, with each one’s strength ebbing and flowing. The Sun drives powerful space weather our way, and the magnetosphere shields the Earth.
How have these two phenomena shaped Earth’s habitability?Continue reading “Earth’s Past and Future Habitability Depends on Our Protection from Space Weather”
Surrounding the brilliant Sun is a layer of diffuse plasma known as the corona. You can’t see it most of the time, but if you happen to experience a total eclipse, the corona is the glow that surrounds the shadow of the Moon. The corona is pale white, almost pink because it has a temperature of more than a million Kelvin. This is vastly hotter than the surface of the Sun, which is about 6,500 K. So how does the corona get so hot?Continue reading “Small Magnetic Fields Have a Big Impact on the Sun's Atmosphere”
Spacecraft instruments are highly specialized and can take years to design, build, and test. But a last-minute hack to one of the instruments on the ESA’s Solar Orbiter has allowed the spacecraft to take some difficult observations it would otherwise have been unable to take.
It’s all because of one astronomer and an instrument door.Continue reading “A Last-Minute Addition to the Solar Orbiter Allows it to See More Deeply into the Sun’s Atmosphere”
Amid its Chandrayaan-3 mission to the Moon, India’s space agency launched another satellite and this one will study the Sun.
The spacecraft, called Aditya-L1, is bound for the Earth-Sun L1 Lagrange Point, located 1.5 million km from Earth. This will give it a perfect perspective to watch the Sun, similar to NASA’s SOHO mission. It will reach its destination in about three months and then use seven instruments to observe the Sun, its atmosphere, and the solar environment.Continue reading “India Follows its Lunar Mission by Sending a Spacecraft to Study the Sun”
The Sun dominates the Solar System in almost every way imaginable, yet much of its inner workings have been hidden from humanity. Over the centuries, and especially in the last few decades, technological advancements allowed us to ignore our mothers’ exhortations and stare at the Sun for as long as we want. We’ve learned a lot from all those observations.
A new study shows how the Sun experiences its own ‘meteor showers.’Continue reading “The Sun Gets Meteor Showers Too, But They’re Very Different”
He’s done it again, outdoing even his own incredible work.
Over the years, we’ve written many articles to share the beautiful and mind-bending astrophotography of Thierry Legault. Each year he seems to come up with ideas to try to surpass even his own craziest attempts of astrophotography feats – such as capturing spy satellites in orbit, or snapping pictures of the International Space Station (ISS) transiting the Sun during a solar eclipse.
Now, he was able to take pictures of the ISS transiting the Sun while two astronauts were doing a spacewalk. As an added challenge, Legault made sure he was in the right place at the right time so he could capture the ISS (and astronauts) while they were passing by three enormous sunspots.
WHAT??Continue reading “Thierry Legault’s Stunning Views of the Space Station (with spacewalking astronauts) Crossing in Front of Sunspots”
There are always more space missions than there is money to support them. Ultimately, some make the funding cut, and some do not. Various factors go into that decision, though those factors can change over the years and decades that some of these missions are designed to take. But the more ideas, the better, and now a new idea has sprung up from a group of scientists at SWRI, NASA, and the University of Minnesota, among others. It involves four different probes sent to various points in the solar system to observe the Sun as it has never been seen before – and just in time to see its most spectacular display in 2032.Continue reading “The Sun Reaches Solar Maximum in 2032. A new NASA Flagship Mission Could Give Us a Perfect View”
Our Sun continues to demonstrate its awesome power in a breathtaking collection of recent images taken by the U.S. National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) Daniel Inouye Solar Telescope, aka Inouye Solar Telescope, which is the world’s largest and most powerful ground-based solar telescope. These images, taken by one of Inouye’s first-generation instruments, the Visible-Broadband Imager (VBI), show our Sun in incredible, up-close detail.Continue reading “New Detailed Images of the Sun from the World’s Most Powerful Ground-Based Solar Telescope”