Flares from the sun are some of the nastiest things in the solar system. When the sun flares, it belches out intense X-ray radiation (and sometimes even worse). Predicting solar flares is a tricky job, and a new research paper sheds light on a possible new technique: looking for telltale ripples in the surface of the sun minutes before the blast comes.
The sun’s magnetic fields are usually nice and calm, but they can become tangled up with each other. When they do, they store a massive amount of energy. And when they finally snap, it’s like a giant Earth-sized rubber band reaching the breaking point. These events are known as solar flares, and they are one of the most energetic events in the solar system.
Opposition describes the occasion marked by the sun, Earth and Mars all lining up perfectly. Earth is in the middle, so the sun is on one side while Mars is on the other. That means Mars will be at the opposite point in the sky, above the horizon after the sun has set.
It also means Mars will appear fully illuminated from the vantage point of Earth-dwellers, causing it to appear especially bright.
Where to look
Mars was closest to Earth a week ago on Oct. 6, in fact the closest in 15 years, but appears more brilliant Tuesday night. That’s because it’s in a better position to reflect more sunlight back at us. Last week, it was doing so at a slanted angle, acutely diminishing its apparent magnitude.
If you’re looking to catch Mars at its most effulgent, all you have to do is look east an hour or
New research shows that sunspots and other active regions can change the overall solar emissions. The sunspots cause some emissions to dim and others to brighten; the timing of the changes also varies between different types of emissions. This knowledge will help astronomers characterize the conditions of stars, which has important implications for finding exoplanets around those stars.
An international research team led by Shin Toriumi at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency added up the different types of emissions observed by a fleet of satellites including “Hinode” and the “Solar Dynamics Observatory” to see what the Sun would look like if observed from far away as a single dot of light like other stars.
The team investigated how features like sunspots change the overall picture. They found that when a sunspot is near the middle of the side of the Sun facing us, it causes the total amount of visible
NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is set to break a record tomorrow, becoming the closest-ever human-made object to the sun. The probe will break its own previous record, coming within 8.4 million miles of the sun’s surface and traveling at 289,927 miles per hour.
This will be the probe’s sixth flyby of the sun since it was launched in 2018. As it orbits around the sun, it gets gradually closer and closer with each pass, and over the summer it got an extra boost by using the gravity of Venus to adjust its trajectory. In July this year, the probe came within just 518 miles of the surface of Venus, and the gravitational assist from this maneuver allowed the probe to get 3.25 million miles closer to the sun than its last pass in June.
This flyby will also be the first time that the probe will pass within 0.1 AU
Solar flares are violent explosions on the sun that fling out high-energy charged particles, sometimes toward Earth, where they disrupt communications and endanger satellites and astronauts.
But as scientists discovered in 1996, flares can also create seismic activity — sunquakes — releasing impulsive acoustic waves that penetrate deep into the sun’s interior.
While the relationship between solar flares and sunquakes is still a mystery, new findings suggest that these “acoustic transients” — and the surface ripples they generate — can tell us a lot about flares and may someday help us forecast their size and severity.
A team of physicists from the United States, Colombia and Australia has found that part of the acoustic energy released from a flare in 2011 emanated from about 1,000 kilometers beneath the solar surface — the photosphere — and, thus, far beneath the solar flare that triggered the quake.