Sometimes the sun spits out high-energy particles which slam into the Earth, potentially disrupting our sensitive electronics. New research has found that these particles originate in the plasma of the sun itself, and are trapped there by strong magnetic fields. When those fields weaken, the particles blast out.Continue reading “Researchers Discover the Source of the Sun’s Most Dangerous High-Energy Particles”
Solar physicists have been having a field day of late. A variety of missions have been staring at the sun more intently ever before (please don’t try it at home). From the Parker Solar Probe to the Solar Orbiter, we are constantly collecting more and more data about our stellar neighbor. But it’s not just the big name missions that can collect useful data – sometimes information from missions as simple as a sounding rocket make all the difference.
That was the case for a group of scientists focused on the Sun’s chromosphere, the part of the suns’ atmosphere between the photosphere and the corona that is one of the least understood parts of the star. Now, with data collected from three different missions simultaneously, humanity has its first layered view of how the sun’s magnetic field works in this underexplored zone.Continue reading “Space Missions are Building Up a Detailed Map of the Sun’s Magnetic Field”
Last summer, the Parker Solar Probe flew past Venus on its way to fly closer to the Sun. In a bit of a surprise, one of the spacecraft’s cameras, the Wide-field Imager for Parker Solar Probe, or WISPR, captured a striking image of the planet’s nightside from 7,693 miles (12380 km) away.
The surprise of the image was that WISPR – a visible light camera – seemingly captured the Venus’ surface in infrared light.Continue reading “Parker Solar Probe Captured Images of Venus on its way to the Sun”
The Sun has a lot of rhythm and goes through different cycles of activity. The most well-known cycle might be the Schwabe cycle, which has an 11-year cadence. But what about cycles with much longer time scales? How can scientists understand them?
As it turns out, the Sun has left some hidden clues in tree rings.Continue reading “Tree Rings Reveal 1,000 Years of Solar Activity”
As Einstein originally predicted with his General Theory of Relativity, gravity alters the curvature of spacetime. As a consequence, the passage of light changes as it encounters a gravitational field, which is how General Relativity was confirmed! For decades, astronomers have taken advantage of this to conduct Gravitational Lensing (GL) – where a distant source is focused and amplified by a massive object in the foreground.
In a recent study, two theoretical physicists argue that the Sun could be used in the same way to create a Solar Gravitational Lens (SGL). This powerful telescope, they argue, would provide enough light amplification to allow for Direct Imaging studies of nearby exoplanets. This could allow astronomers to determine if planets like Proxima b are potentially-habitable long before we send missions to study them.Continue reading “If We Used the Sun as a Gravitational Lens Telescope, This is What a Planet at Proxima Centauri Would Look Like”
A new image from the world’s largest solar observatory shows a spectacular, high resolution view of a gigantic sunspot. The sunpspot measures about 16,000 km (10,000 miles) across, large enough that Earth could fit inside.Continue reading “A Sunspot Seen by the Most Powerful Solar Telescope in the World”
Consumption and disintegration.
Next time you want to be the life of the party—if you’re hanging out with cool nerds that is—just drop that phrase into the conversation. And when they look at you quizzically, just say that’s the eventual fate of the Solar System.Continue reading “In the Far Future, Stellar Flybys Will Completely Dismantle the Solar System”
The surface of the Sun is a turbulent dance of gravity, plasma, and magnetic fields. Much like the weather on Earth, its behavior can seem unpredictable, but there are patterns to be found when you look closely.Continue reading “Solar astronomers can now predict future sunspots. There should be a big one in a couple of days”
The sun goes through a regular 11-year cycle, swinging between periods of dormancy and periods of activity. Scientists from NASA and NOAA have just announced that the sun has just passed its minimum, and will be ramping up in activity over the next few years, meaning that we have entered a new round of the never-ending solar cycle.Continue reading “Solar Cycle 25 has arrived. Here’s what to expect from the Sun in the coming months and years”
Scientists have learned a lot about the atmospheres on various worlds in our Solar System simply from planetary sunrises or sunsets. Sunlight streaming through the haze of an atmosphere can be separated into its component colors to create spectra, just as prisms do with sunlight. From the spectra, astronomers can interpret the measurements of light to reveal the chemical makeup of an atmosphere.Continue reading “Sunrises Across the Solar System”