Earth’s magnetic field, which protects the planet from huge blasts of deadly solar radiation, has been weakening over the past six months, according to data collected by a European Space Agency (ESA) satellite array called Swarm. The biggest weak spots in the magnetic field – which extends 370,000 miles (600,000 kilometers) above the planet’s surface — have sprung up over the Western… Read more →
NASA spots square-shaped ‘hole’ in the Sun
A NASA spacecraft has made a surprising find on the surface of the sun: a square-shaped “hole” in the star’s outer atmosphere.
The dark square on the sun, known as a “coronal hole,” is an area where the solar wind is streaming out of the sun at superfast speeds. NASA captured a video of the sun’s square-shaped coronal hole between May 5-7 using the powerful Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO).
The coronal hole appears dark in the NASA view because there is less material emitting light in the ultraviolet range of the spectrum used to make the video, according to a NASA video description. [Biggest Solar Storms of 2014 (Photos)]
“Inside the coronal hole you can see bright loops where the hot plasma outlines little pieces of the solar magnetic field sticking above the surface,” SDO officials wrote in the video description. “Because it is positioned so far south on the sun, there is less chance that the solar wind stream will impact us here on Earth.”
NASA’s sun-watching Solar Dynamics Observatory is just one of a fleet of spacecraft keeping a close watch on the weather on Earth’s parent star. In 2013, the sun experienced its peak activity of its 11-year solar weather cycle.
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Blood Moons: Tetrad of Lunar Eclipses Will All be Uniquely Visible for All or Parts of USA
A total lunar eclipse on April 15th marks the beginning of a remarkable series of eclipses all visible from North America.
(Reuters) – Fierce solar blasts that could have badly damaged electrical grids and disabled satellites in space narrowly missed Earth in 2012, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday. The bursts would have wreaked havoc on the Earth’s magnetic field, matching the severity of the 1859 Carrington event, the largest solar magnetic storm ever reported on the planet. That blast knocked out… Read more →
The sun fired off a major solar flare late Tuesday, making it the most powerful sun eruption of the year so far and one of the strongest in recent years. The massive X4.9-class solar flare erupted from an active sunspot, called AR1990, at 7:49 p.m. EST. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured high-definition video of the monster solar flare. The spaceecraft recording… Read more →
Sun releases first X class flare of 2014
NASA reports the first significant solar flare of 2014. The flare, which occurred at 1:32 p.m. EST on Tuesday Jan. 7, is listed as a X1.2-class. Solar flares release significant amounts of radiation and, while is not harmful to humans, as it does not penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere, it can cause disruption to GPS and other communication signals.
The sun has undergone a “complete field reversal,” with its north and south poles changing places as it marks the midpoint of Solar Cycle 24. “A reversal of the sun’s magnetic field is, literally, a big event,” NASA’s Dr. Tony Phillips said in a statement issued on the space agency’s website. “The sun’s polar magnetic fields weaken, go to zero and… Read more →
Alex Young is interviewed about the current solar cycle and what a magnetic flip means for the earth and NASA’s study of magnetic fields.