New Video: Flares Pop as Titanic Magnetism Roils Sun

By Tom Yulsman | February 9, 2014 5:21 pm

The sun has been acting up as of late, with intense magnetic forces creating large clusters of sunspots and associated solar flares. The video above, based on data from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft, shows a closeup of some of the action.

Look for the tangled lines between the two bright, active regions. Here, magnetic field lines are being made visible (in extreme ultraviolet light) by high-energy particles spinning along them.

When magnetic fields on the sun get too tangled up, they may suddenly snap, releasing a gargantuan explosion of energy in the form of a solar flare. In the video, you can watch this process play out as the sun’s surface crackles with magnetic energy and then bright flares pop off.

White light images are good for showing sunspots, which form in these areas of intense magnetic activity. In the video above, you can watch a particularly large cluster of sunspots swing across the view with the sun’s rotation. As the little image of our planet used at lower left for scale indicates, just one of the big sunspots could easily swallow up the Earth with room to spare.

Sunspot prediction solar flares

Observed and predicted progress of the solar cycle. The solid line continuing in the lower hump to the right shows the prediction out to the year 2020. (Source: Marshall Spaceflight Center/NASA)

In the image above, the jagged line shows observed sunspot numbers, which is a good indication of solar activity. The solid line shows the prediction.

As the image indicates, the sun’s overall activity is probably going to subside pretty soon. (Also, the peak for this cycle is quite a bit lower than the previous one.)

So please check back for more images of the sun before the activity really drops off. Also come back for some aurora photos I’ve been saving from my recent trip to Norway. (One even looks like a Viking ship.)

 

CATEGORIZED UNDER: select, Solar System, Sun, Top Posts
  • 144trinity

    I hear the word of GOD said the sun suppose to heat up seven times hot er how much the earth will heat up

    • Rajiv Tangri

      Keep listening. Perhaps you will hear ice age.

      • 144trinity

        I here that this SUN system has 12 planets and Can prove it by the WORD of GOD THE I AM

      • 144trinity

        NO I dont hear of an ice age but I do hear about the seas drying up and rivers sinking . you know when you take something out of the ground something has to fill it up OIL<GAS CLEAN WATER OUT OF THE SEVEN STREAMS IN THE WORLD

  • 144trinity

    WHAT effect does the Moon HAVE on the sun like the earth or comic

    • Rajiv Tangri

      None

      • 144trinity

        well if that is true the seas are effected by the moon and the moon got a sunflare great direct hit will it make the waves of the seas roar more

  • Rajiv Tangri

    Great article! As you noted in relation to the last image posted that the peak was far lower than previously seen. You hint that overall the Suns output will drop off. I believe we are heading towards a Maunder Minimum. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maunder_Minimum What are your thoughts?

    • 144trinity

      I know every thing is expanding just like the earth the earthquakes it gets stronger and stronger just like knowlegde

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ImaGeo

ImaGeo is a visual blog focusing on the intersection of imagery, imagination and Earth. It focuses on spectacular visuals related to the science of our planet, with an emphasis (although not an exclusive one) on the unfolding Anthropocene Epoch.

About Tom Yulsman

Tom Yulsman is Director of the Center for Environmental Journalism and a Professor of Journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He also continues to work as a science and environmental journalist with more than 30 years of experience producing content for major publications. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Audubon, Climate Central, Columbia Journalism Review, Discover, Nieman Reports, and many other publications. He has held a variety of editorial positions over the years, including a stint as editor-in-chief of Earth magazine. Yulsman has written one book: Origins: the Quest for Our Cosmic Roots, published by the Institute of Physics in 2003.

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