Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Solar Tsunami

As many of you may know, this week held some pretty cool solar activity. Four large coronal mass ejections took place, allowing for fabulous aurora borealis viewing on Earth. Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) are similar to and related to solar flares, but the relationship is not yet fully understood. Flares generally produce a visible, well…flare.., which shoots away from the sun. As you can see from this video, no flares were visible during these recent events, though you can glimpse the power of a large CME.

CMEs of this magnitude are cool because they cause such bright northern lights that folks in non-polar regions have a good chance of seeing them. Unfortunately, they also may knock out some unprotected parts of the power grid and mess with satellites.

Nevertheless, the sun is cool (figuratively speaking). Also check out this crazy-awesome photo:


This image is an extreme ultraviolet snapshot from the Solar Dynamics Observatory. It shows the sun's northern hemisphere in mid-eruption. Different colors represent different gas temperatures ranging from ~1 to 2 million degrees K.

*Note: "Solar Tsunami" would be an excellent band name.

5 comments:

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Troy said...

While we're reminiscing about high school (from my recent blog post), you should have called me Solar Tsunami in high school. Way cooler than...well, we won't get into code names.

And I did NOT see the aurora borealis, even though I live way up here in AK. No one has even talked about it. Hopefully it'll happen again soon.

Troy said...

BTW, La Bouche's "Be My Lover" is totally stuck in my head now (I owned that CD in 8th grade!).

"Be my lover, wanna be my lover...la da da dee da da da dah, la da da dee da da da dah...."

Sorry if no one else know's what I'm talking about right now.

Jillian said...

Troy (aka Solar Tsunami), it was stuck in my head all day after I wrote that. I looked up the video on YouTube....ah the nineties....

Come to think of it, Solar Tsunami sounds like a good superhero name. Way better than the Silver Surfer or Green Lantern...

WV: fratiati
--A fraternaty made up entirly of the children of italian mobsters

Edward Ott said...

fantastic picture.