Thursday, April 12, 2012

Something New on the Sun?

Hey Space Placers!

Solar scientists think they have spotted something new on the Sun after looking at imagery from the Solar Dynamics Observatory and STEREO spacecraft. What they noticed was "a pattern of cells with bright centers and dark boundaries occurring in the Sun’s atmosphere, the corona. These cells looked somewhat like a cell pattern that occurs on the Sun’s surface -- similar to the bubbles that rise to the top of boiling water -- but it was a surprise to find this pattern higher up in the corona, which is normally dominated by bright loops and dark coronal holes."

"The coronal cells occur in areas between coronal holes -- colder and less dense areas of the corona seen as dark regions in images -- and “filament channels” which mark the boundaries between sections of upward-pointing magnetic fields and downward-pointing ones. Understanding how these cells evolve can provide clues as to the changing magnetic fields at the boundaries of coronal holes and how they affect the steady emission of solar material known as the solar wind streaming from these holes."

“We think the coronal cells look like flames shooting up, like candles on a birthday cake,” says 
Neil Sheeley, a solar scientist at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C.. “When you see them from the side, they look like flames. When you look at them straight down they look like cells. And we had a great way of checking this out, because we could look at them from the top and from the side at the same time using observations from SDO, STEREO-A, and STEREO-B.”

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Sky Guy in VA

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