October 31, 2013 |
The sun has erupted more than two dozen times over the last week, sending radiation and solar material hurtling through space - and scientists say more eruptions may be coming. This shouldn't be unusual. After all, we are technically at solar maximum, the peak of the 11-year cycle of the sun's activity. But this has been a noticeably mellow solar maximum, with the sun staying fairly quiet throughout the summer. So when our life-giving star suddenly let loose with 24 medium strength M-class solar flares and four significantly stronger X-class flares between Oct. 23 and Oct. 30, it felt like a surprise.
October 25, 2013 |
The sun shot out a pair of gigantic solar flares early Friday -- the second one even bigger than the first, a NOAA expert tells the Los Angeles Times. An X1-class solar flare occurred at about 1 a.m. PDT, followed by an even larger one about eight hours later. "This one was an X2, twice as intense as the X1 that just occurred," said Bill Murtagh, program coordinator with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in an interview Friday morning. PHOTOS: Stunning views of the sun News of the latest activity came as NASA released a spectacular video and image, see above, of a solar eruption in September, what the space agency termed a "canyon of fire.
August 15, 2013 |
Voyager 1, where are you? After traveling more than 11 billion miles, there's no doubt the 36-year-old spacecraft is the farthest man-made object from Earth. But whether the probe has exited the solar system and is now speeding through interstellar space has become a contentious issue among scientists. NASA insists Voyager remains within the heliosphere, the bubble of magnetism that emanates from the sun and stretches far beyond the orbits of Neptune and Pluto. In fact, Voyager scientists say the craft is now traveling through a mysterious region at the very edge of the heliosphere.
August 7, 2013 |
The sun's enormous magnetic field is about to flip, and the effects of this massive realignment will be felt throughout the solar system, including here on Earth. But don't expect anything too crazy to happen. Chances are you've experienced a major solar magnetic flip already, probably without even realizing it. The sun flips its magnetic field once every 11 years, at the same time it reaches solar maximum, when sun spots and solar flares are at their height. The magnetic flip doesn't happen all at once, explained Phil Scherrer, a researcher at Stanford University who studies the sun. "It's a long, slow process, and in fact it has already begun," he told the Los Angeles Times.
June 29, 2013 |
The moment of unplanned silence prompted by a midceremony miscue between groom and DJ still stings. Music, after all, was to occupy a key spot in our recent wedding, playing a role otherwise reserved for scripture, prayer, meditation or hymn in a more traditional religious ceremony. In place of the usual wedding march, my nephew Leo, 11, and his guitar teacher had earlier serenaded the gathering with an expert - objectively speaking, of course - version of the Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun" as my soon-to-be wife, Jenny, and her father walked down the aisle.
February 22, 2013 |
And you thought acid rain was bad? As it turns out, it literally rains fire on the sun. In a video released this week, NASA highlighted yet another beautiful, hellish phenomenon of our nearest star, coronal rain. Thanks to the sun's magma twisting and braiding and swirling the star's countless magnetic fields every which way, occasionally things get a little messy. Such as on July 19, when a moderately powerful solar flare burst hot plasma out from the surface. As the material cooled and condensed, it traced along the magnetic fields arcing back to the sun's surface, creating a glowing, reddish-yellow arch of searing plasma raining back onto the sun. The size of these arcs of death rain is highlighted at 1:06 into the movie when Earth is shown next to them in scale.