Has the Sun Blown its Top?

By Tom Yulsman | July 12, 2014 11:20 am

An image of the sun based on data gathered by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory on July 10, 2014. (Source: NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory)

I spotted this image on the Facebook page for NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory and found it so compelling that I had to share it.

The brilliant arcing loops of hot plasma, and the roiling bright areas certainly caught my attention. But I was most intrigued by the two bluish, dark regions, especially the one atop the Sun. If you didn’t know much about solar dynamics, you might guess that the Sun really has blown its top.

And in a way, you’d be right — sort of.

The dark areas are called coronal holes — places in the Sun’s corona, or outer atmosphere, where magnetic field lines open out into interplanetary space, rather than loop back down toward the sun. This allows particles from the corona to escape more freely into space from these regions.

Particles stream out into space from all over the corona at high-speed, creating the solar wind. But lately, more particles have been blowing outward from the top and bottom region. In fact, the rate of escape is three times faster than the slower wind elsewhere. So in these areas, the material is much less dense and relatively cooler, and thus much darker in the image.

In this way, they really are “holes” — areas where the corona, which extends millions of miles into space, has blown off much more material than elsewhere and thus is much thinner.

The image itself is actually a composite of three views, each showing features of the corona at different temperatures (which range from 1.8 million degrees to 3.6 million degrees F). In contrast to the dark coronal holes, solar flares and coronal mass ejections appear bright in the image. Also visible are bright coronal loops — hot plasma arcing off of the Sun along magnetic field lines.

For more details about coronal holes, see this detailed post by Discover contributor Cory Powell.

  • Георги Кънев

    This team
    have made up great job about the Sun exploration, but to study something like a
    star event most closest – our Sun is far more difficult and need long
    observation at least hundred if not thousands of years! But let me explain the
    mechanism of Sun’s magnetic pole changing according to following physical
    supposition: I have to explain
    why the Sun actually synthesis much heavier elements than helium, until to
    uranium and why each sphere object such as planets, moons and stars compulsory
    possesses nucleus from super material representing nuclear chain with huge
    density and common magnetic moment (in our solar system that nuclear chain is
    forms most probably by uranium nuclei)? In part I and part II USM http://www.kanevuniverse.com
    is shown why the gravitational field has inertial character and what
    means this. Summarizing it is repulsion between the atoms (nuclei) when they
    are thickened so close by the outside applying pressure for example, that atoms
    (nuclei) cannot create their own fields (there aren’t place for that) and to
    restore the equilibrium between the centripetal and centrifugal forces in any
    such orbital system, there appears the force of repulsion. There is important
    to suggest that the outside pressure must to be in volume mode, because if it
    isn’t the matter simply will flow away where absent pressure. So we are ready
    to examine the following example: We know very well that when we sink in the
    ocean our spot pressure is increases for about 1kg/(cm.cm) in each 10 meter depth-water, so if we are in
    1000 meters depth-water, the pressure will be 100kg/(cm.cm) or so, but this it
    isn’t volume pressure and the repulsion reaction by the water molecules is
    ignorable because the pressure is relatively weak! So what will happen in the
    center of Earth, for example? The pressure increases in volume mode and we have
    repulsion as well. Then according to the formula g=G.M/(r.r) the pressure will
    become almost infinity when the radius (r) inclining to zero! Obviously each
    object even smallest moons has nucleus, it maybe centimeter’s size, but exist!
    That is why the Sun synthesis any heaviest nuclei until uranium….. why until
    uranium, but not more heaver elements and why the uranium is the last stable
    element in the nature table you can see in USM http://www.kanevuniverse.com especially pages 235 to 238.

    Mercury as
    well the other planets in the solar system was born from the Sun because all
    planets centripetal acceleration fulfills the rule: g=(V.C/R).ln(1+V/C), where R – is the distance
    between the planet and the Sun, V=w.R, where w – is the angular velocity of the
    equatorial area of the Sun. See USM part I http://www.kanevuniverse.com
    Obtained result coincides with the same acceleration estimated by the
    law: g=G.M/(r.r) Second important suggestion is that the Sun in fact synthesis
    all nature element until uranium, but not only iron how was estimated so far.
    It is so because of the essence of the field, see again Part I USM. So the core
    of the Sun is contains from super dense and therefore with huge gravitational
    attraction material – nuclear chain, most probably from uranium nuclei, see
    joromachine http://www.kanevuniverse.com and with super strong common magnetic moment. That is
    why the Sun changes its magnetic poles for about 11 years or so – because of
    the interaction between this core and the plasma surrounding it. How it is seen
    this core reminds the so called “neutron star”, which of course hasn’t any
    physical means because such creation is impossible, as well this is in force
    about the so called “black hole”. Such core possesses any star, even any planet
    but the difference is only in the size of the core – in smallest objects this
    core can be only centimeter’s radius (see again USM and essence of the field).
    The size of the core of our Sun is around 70 km in radius (see USM). For
    example proof about this assertion we can find out in rings and moons of Saturn,
    in their different direction of revolving (some of them), which shows that the
    core of Saturn also changes its polarization, similarly to the Sun, but very
    slowly, because the Saturn is far smaller and far cooler than the Sun. Now we
    can suppose that Mercury (because it was born from the Sun last in line) has
    most large quantity of heaviest elements in comparison with the rest of the
    planets and that is why Mercury is most dense object in the solar system. Maybe
    the core of Mercury is responsible for volcanic activity there and maybe it is
    in force about all planets?! And this: What will happen with our Sun when
    the end begins? Let first remind again the supernova event evolution:

    The heavier
    elements which aren’t form solid stuff of the star will come to disintegration
    when the pressure and temperature within its volume reach the following values: 2.10 rising to a 27 power [kg/(cm.cm)];
    3.10 rising to a 11 power [K degree] see USM http://www.kanevuniverse.com
    The same is corresponds to the evolution of the neutron’s stars. When
    the fuel of the some star comes to its end, which means that not only the
    thermonuclear synthesis of hydrogen atoms already is spend, but the thermo
    nuclear synthesis of more heavier atoms also is on its end, then the star
    begins to collapse (to shrinking) and when the above values of the pressure and
    temperature are reached, then these
    atoms come to disintegration finally again into hydrogen atoms, but old ones
    see USM http://www.kanevuniverse.com After that
    again according to part I of the theory the pressure and temperature begin to
    decreases and again is ignites the thermonuclear synthesis, the star begin to
    expand reaching the pressure and temperature above which this reaction is
    possible: 2.10 rising to a 9 power [kg/(cm.cm)]; 10 rising to a 7 power [K
    degree] Below these parameters the thermonuclear reaction stops and the star
    disperse itself. Why the gravitation field cannot stop this process? Because
    the star is already on the periphery of its galaxy where it hasn’t necessary
    resonance radius to spring up again, see page 80, 81, 82, 83 USM http://www.kanevuniverse.com where is calculated the radius of birth
    of the Sun and why the stars are birth on the center of their own galaxies. So
    there is one exception if the observed star is very massive one, then if the
    resonance radius where the star is situated during its collapsing is enough
    short then there can be born some little star which its own centripetal
    acceleration correspond to their current parameters: velocity of bird and
    radius of bird. However, most probably the star springs up like supernova and
    after that die. What will happen with dispersed from such star old protons and
    old neutrons…they also come to disintegration into hypothetically substars and
    subplanets from the subspace see USM part I, part II and superconductivity http://www.kanevuniverse.com

    And also
    this: About pulsars, this explanation is correct with one exception, namely
    remainder after the star explosion in fact is nuclear chain material with
    common magnetic moment (see joromachine http://www.kanevuniverse.com ) which can’t radiate anything because such material has full (not
    approximately) but full reflection….. that is why such material shine so
    brightly but not because it is in high energy state eventually!

    Now imagine
    that the Sun’s nucleus firstly has magnetic axis parallel with the rotation
    axis of the star (polarization). Then the plasma surrounding nucleus, we can
    divide into two layers until to the periphery of the sphere: one of them is
    with supposing positive charges and another – negative charges (this is some
    kind of motor where the nucleus is the rotor and the plasma is the coils).
    Because the magnetic induction always creates contra reactions by the coils,
    the rotor begins to revolve (there is appears revolving moment). So gradually
    the rotor revolves in the plane defined by the rotation and magnetic axes of
    the Sun. Simultaneously the plasma reacted as to changes the places of the two
    layers of charged particles, which is attendant with huge eruptions (Sun
    activity). When the magnetic poles axis change they positions, the process is
    repeats, every 11 years! G.Kanev

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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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