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.
January 23, 2013 |
Scientists have taken the highest resolution images of the sun's atmosphere ever, and it offers an explanation for the decades-old mystery of why its outer most layer is up to 800 times hotter than its surface. Using photos from the High Resolution Coronal Imager (Hi-C) that was flung into space in July, scientists observed small bands of magnetism near the star's surface twist, turn and braid together before snapping apart, releasing heat and energy flares that heated up the star's atmosphere.
July 13, 2012 |
Animal migration is one of the great wonders of the natural world. Monarch butterflies, Arctic terns and humpback whales, among other species, travel thousands of miles to escape harsh seasonal weather and find more hospitable climes, like New Yorkers who high-tail it for Florida when the first snowflake drops. But, unlike humans, animal species don't have airlines and highways to guide them. How do they make their amazing journeys? With the help of magnets, according to new research.