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April 7, 2014 | By Amina Khan
A solar flare flashed on the turbulent surface of the sun last week - and NASA captured the moment in a video. The agency's Solar Dynamics Observatory watched as balletic lines of light swirled and grew to produce the M-class flare. Solar flares get letter grades to categorize their strength. The weakest ones are A-class; then come B, C, M and finally X class. Each letter class is 10 times stronger than the one before it. Numbers attached to each letter put a finer point on each flare's power.
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SCIENCE
April 7, 2014 | By Amina Khan
A solar flare flashed on the turbulent surface of the sun last week - and NASA captured the moment in a video. The agency's Solar Dynamics Observatory watched as balletic lines of light swirled and grew to produce the M-class flare. Solar flares get letter grades to categorize their strength. The weakest ones are A-class; then come B, C, M and finally X class. Each letter class is 10 times stronger than the one before it. Numbers attached to each letter put a finer point on each flare's power.
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SCIENCE
January 31, 2014 | By Deborah Netburn
On Thursday morning, at exactly 5:31 a.m. Pacific time, the moon passed across the face of the sun, at least from the perspective of NASA's space-based Solar Dynamics Observatory. Although the SDO sees two to three lunar transits of this ilk a year, this one was especially cool for a few reasons. 1. At 2.5 hours, it was the longest lunar transit that the SDO has observed in its four years in space. 2. If you watch the video above closely, you can see the sun release a solar flare and a coronal mass ejection (CME)
SCIENCE
March 31, 2014 | By Amy Hubbard, This post has been updated. See below for details.
An immense solar flare burst from the sun Saturday, and as of Monday there were "several coronal mass ejections in play," according to NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center. A coronal mass ejection is a huge release --billions of tons -- of solar material and magnetic fields that, if it reaches Earth, can create beautiful auroras as well as cause problems with the power grid. [Updated 4 p.m. March 30: Heliophysicist Alex Young told the Los Angeles Times this flare was unique in that it was "impulsive" -- providing a strong, quick burst of radiation.
SCIENCE
November 29, 2013 | By Monte Morin
Has Comet ISON survived its suicidal flyby of the sun? Scientists expected the dirty snowball to break apart as it flew within 730,000 miles of the sun on Thanksgiving, but NASA reported Friday that its nucleus may have survived. "As ISON appeared to dim and fizzle in several observatories and later could not be seen at all by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory or by ground based solar observatories, many scientists believed it had disintegrated completely," read a NASA statement . "However, a streak of bright material streaming away from the sun appeared in the European Space Agency and NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory later in the evening.
SCIENCE
April 24, 2013 | By Deborah Netburn
Thanks to NASA, you can now stare at the sun for three minutes straight. No, don't run outside and look up. Instead, check out the clip above that condenses three years of sun images into a hypnotic three-minute video that shows our closest star rotating on its axis, radiating energy and light. The images in the video were taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory, a NASA satellite that launched three years ago in 2010, with the express purpose of helping scientists better understand the sun and how its magnetic fields shift and change.  To that end, the Solar Dynamics Observatory is constantly monitoring the sun, including snapping an image of it every 12 seconds in 10 different wavelengths.
SCIENCE
March 31, 2014 | By Amy Hubbard, This post has been updated. See below for details.
An immense solar flare burst from the sun Saturday, and as of Monday there were "several coronal mass ejections in play," according to NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center. A coronal mass ejection is a huge release --billions of tons -- of solar material and magnetic fields that, if it reaches Earth, can create beautiful auroras as well as cause problems with the power grid. [Updated 4 p.m. March 30: Heliophysicist Alex Young told the Los Angeles Times this flare was unique in that it was "impulsive" -- providing a strong, quick burst of radiation.
SCIENCE
June 6, 2013 | By Amina Khan
The comet Lovejoy plunged into the sun's blazing corona in 2011 and somehow made it out "alive. " That's a feat that no man-made spacecraft could have achieved. Now, in a paper published in Science, astronomers show how they tracked the hurtling ice ball's path as it grazed the sun to learn more about the solar magnetic field. Lovejoy, known more officially as C/2011 W3, came within a mere 87,000 miles of the sun's surface as it flew by on Dec. 15 and 16, 2011. NASA's Solar Probe Plus , planned for launch in 2018, will come within about 3.7 million miles of the sun's surface - more than 40 times as distant as Lovejoy's encounter.
SCIENCE
January 9, 2010 | By Mark K. Matthews
NASA heads into 2010 with the bittersweet assignment of retiring the space shuttle after nearly three decades. But the agency also plans to launch three new satellites aimed at better understanding the sun and Earth's climate and oceans. Two satellites will examine Earth -- specifically, the concentration of salt in the world's oceans and the presence of aerosols, or minute particles, such as dust or ash, in the atmosphere. A third satellite mission will study the sun and its effect on space weather, including solar flares that can disrupt communication on Earth.
SCIENCE
July 12, 2013 | By Amina Khan
If tsunamis on Earth don't seem terrifying enough, imagine the power of such a monstrous wave on the sun -- bigger, faster and made of searing plasma. Scientists have spotted two solar tsunamis that have allowed them to accurately measure the sun's magnetic field. The results, published by the journal Solar Physics, should help researchers better understand the makeup of the sun's "quiet corona" and help predict when coronal mass ejections threaten Earth. Solar tsunamis, spotted initially in 1997, are caused when a coronal mass ejection is hurled from the sun out into space.
SCIENCE
January 31, 2014 | By Deborah Netburn
On Thursday morning, at exactly 5:31 a.m. Pacific time, the moon passed across the face of the sun, at least from the perspective of NASA's space-based Solar Dynamics Observatory. Although the SDO sees two to three lunar transits of this ilk a year, this one was especially cool for a few reasons. 1. At 2.5 hours, it was the longest lunar transit that the SDO has observed in its four years in space. 2. If you watch the video above closely, you can see the sun release a solar flare and a coronal mass ejection (CME)
SCIENCE
November 29, 2013 | By Monte Morin
Has Comet ISON survived its suicidal flyby of the sun? Scientists expected the dirty snowball to break apart as it flew within 730,000 miles of the sun on Thanksgiving, but NASA reported Friday that its nucleus may have survived. "As ISON appeared to dim and fizzle in several observatories and later could not be seen at all by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory or by ground based solar observatories, many scientists believed it had disintegrated completely," read a NASA statement . "However, a streak of bright material streaming away from the sun appeared in the European Space Agency and NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory later in the evening.
SCIENCE
July 12, 2013 | By Amina Khan
If tsunamis on Earth don't seem terrifying enough, imagine the power of such a monstrous wave on the sun -- bigger, faster and made of searing plasma. Scientists have spotted two solar tsunamis that have allowed them to accurately measure the sun's magnetic field. The results, published by the journal Solar Physics, should help researchers better understand the makeup of the sun's "quiet corona" and help predict when coronal mass ejections threaten Earth. Solar tsunamis, spotted initially in 1997, are caused when a coronal mass ejection is hurled from the sun out into space.
SCIENCE
June 6, 2013 | By Amina Khan
The comet Lovejoy plunged into the sun's blazing corona in 2011 and somehow made it out "alive. " That's a feat that no man-made spacecraft could have achieved. Now, in a paper published in Science, astronomers show how they tracked the hurtling ice ball's path as it grazed the sun to learn more about the solar magnetic field. Lovejoy, known more officially as C/2011 W3, came within a mere 87,000 miles of the sun's surface as it flew by on Dec. 15 and 16, 2011. NASA's Solar Probe Plus , planned for launch in 2018, will come within about 3.7 million miles of the sun's surface - more than 40 times as distant as Lovejoy's encounter.
SCIENCE
May 15, 2013 | By Deborah Netburn
There she goes again! The same region of the sun that brought you three powerful solar flares in a 24-hour span from Sunday night to Monday evening let loose Tuesday night with another explosive flash of ultraviolet radiation and sent tons of its own solar material flying through space. The flare, which peaked at 6:48 p.m. EDT, was the fourth this week to be categorized as X-class, the most powerful type of solar flare. As usual, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory caught beautiful images of the sun's fireworks, which you can see above.
SCIENCE
April 24, 2013 | By Deborah Netburn
Thanks to NASA, you can now stare at the sun for three minutes straight. No, don't run outside and look up. Instead, check out the clip above that condenses three years of sun images into a hypnotic three-minute video that shows our closest star rotating on its axis, radiating energy and light. The images in the video were taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory, a NASA satellite that launched three years ago in 2010, with the express purpose of helping scientists better understand the sun and how its magnetic fields shift and change.  To that end, the Solar Dynamics Observatory is constantly monitoring the sun, including snapping an image of it every 12 seconds in 10 different wavelengths.
SCIENCE
May 15, 2013 | By Deborah Netburn
There she goes again! The same region of the sun that brought you three powerful solar flares in a 24-hour span from Sunday night to Monday evening let loose Tuesday night with another explosive flash of ultraviolet radiation and sent tons of its own solar material flying through space. The flare, which peaked at 6:48 p.m. EDT, was the fourth this week to be categorized as X-class, the most powerful type of solar flare. As usual, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory caught beautiful images of the sun's fireworks, which you can see above.
SCIENCE
November 28, 2013 | By Deborah Netburn
Comet ISON is going to make its closest approach to the sun today, but whatever you do, don't look. Even if the powerful radiation from the sun causes the gas and dust in the comet to glow as brightly as the full moon, it would still not be visible in the daytime sky. The sun's light would completely block it out.  "We don't want people waving binoculars and telescopes toward the sun," said Karl Battams, a heliophysicist at the Naval Research...
SCIENCE
January 9, 2010 | By Mark K. Matthews
NASA heads into 2010 with the bittersweet assignment of retiring the space shuttle after nearly three decades. But the agency also plans to launch three new satellites aimed at better understanding the sun and Earth's climate and oceans. Two satellites will examine Earth -- specifically, the concentration of salt in the world's oceans and the presence of aerosols, or minute particles, such as dust or ash, in the atmosphere. A third satellite mission will study the sun and its effect on space weather, including solar flares that can disrupt communication on Earth.
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