NASA Discovery: Giant Hole In The Sun Spews Solar Material Into Space Posted on July 30, 2013 by luciferpeter July 29, 2013, DOOMSDAY THE MOMENT THE OUTBREAK OF ALL-OUT CIVIL WAR IN EGYPT, SUPERVOLCANOES, MEGA-THRUST EARTHQUAKES, MEGA-TSUNAMIS,

NASA Discovery: Giant Hole In The Sun Spews Solar Material Into Space

Posted on July 30, 2013 by luciferpeter

July 29, 2013

NASA Discovery: Giant Hole In The Sun Spews Solar Material Into Space

 

NASA scientists pointing a telescope at the sun have discovered a gigantic hole in the solar atmosphere. The dark spot covers nearly a quarter of our closest star and is shooting solar material and gas into space.

 

Known as a coronal hole, the dark spot is located over the sun’s north pole. The discovery was witnessed from July 13 through July 18. NASA’s discovery was made using the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO.

Following the discovery, NASA released a video of the sun’s hole.

A Coronal hole is a darker, cool region of the sun’s atmosphere where solar material is contained. In the gaps, magnetic field lines whip out into the solar wind instead of looping back to the sun’s surface.

The sun’s holes are able to affect space weather as they send solar particles shooting away from the sun’s surface. Materials are hurled away from the sun in coronal spots at three times faster than regular solar winds.

According to NASA:

“While it’s unclear what causes coronal holes, they correlate to areas on the sun where magnetic fields soar up and away, failing to loop back down to the surface, as they do elsewhere.”

Coronal holes are not uncommon, but, with the sun reaching its 11-year peak in activity, they typically decrease in number. The 11-year peak is the solar maximum in which the sun’s poles switch their magnetism.

When the poles reversal is complete, new coronal holes will appear near each pole. As the solar minimum appears, the holes move closer to the sun’s equator as they grow in size and number.

NASA’s discovery is just one more in a line of many to be discovered since the agency launched the $1.27 billion SOHO satellite in 1995.

SOHO is a joint effort between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). SOHO watches the sun from a gravitational stable spot between the Earth and the Sun known as Lagrange Point 1.

Read more at http://www.inquisitr.com/875772/nasa-discovery-giant-hole-in-the-sun-spews-solar-material-into-space/#BMJOF44r3z5biFiC.99 

First images from NASA’s Sun-staring IRIS satellite

Launched last month, IRIS is already returning beautiful views.

by Scott K. Johnson – July 29 2013, 9:15pm +0800

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NASA/SDO/IRIS

Last month we told you about the launch of NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) satellite, which was built to study a poorly understood layer of the Sun’s atmosphere. After its successful launch, the satellite settled into its orbit and NASA took the lens cap off the telescope on July 17.

Now, NASA has released the first imagery from the telescope, and it is gorgeous. The image above shows the unprecedented detail of IRIS’s view (on the right) compared to the view from the Solar Dynamics Observatory, a satellite that has been studying the Sun since 2010. (The video below shows these images in motion.)

The feathery features you see are the result of differences in density and temperature. It’s the movement of energy through this layer of the solar atmosphere that NASA scientists are trying to understand. It should help them figure out how the Sun’s upper atmosphere gets so hot, as well as how solar flares form.

 

A comparison between the new hardware and past observatories.

 July 29th 2013 at 2:15 pm

Check Out the First Amazing Pictures of the Sun from NASA’s IRIS

NASA stares into the Sun so you don’t have to.

By Jonah Feldman (  ) Comments

 

NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) satellite has been open for less than two weeks, and already it’s returned the first images from its mission to study the Sun’s atmosphere. The combined ultraviolet telescope and spectrograph is pulling in amazing views as well as valuable data on energy transfer in the Sun’s interface region.

The IRIS, which launched on June 27th and opened its telescope doors on July 17th, has already produced unique insights into the largely-unstudied interface region in the Sun’s lower atmosphere, where the activity of massive magnetic fields facilitates heat transfer outward to the corona and intensifies its temperature to 1 million degrees Kelvin, or 1.8 million degrees Fahrenheit. One of the biggest mysteries of the Sun is how the outermost part is hotter than the interior, which seems counter-intuitive, and the interface holds the answer to this question. According to NASA’s Karen C. Fox, “IRIS’s first images showed a multitude of thin, fibril-like structures that have never been seen before, revealing enormous contrasts in density and temperature occur throughout this region even between neighboring loops that are only a few hundred miles apart.”

The above image (take a closer look here) shows the IRIS image on the right, as compared to one from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which is noticeably less detailed. A brief video (keep in mind it’s sped up) lets you see for yourself what it looks like when streams of hot and cold plasma collide in the interface region — to me it looks like an ’80s movie’s depiction of Hell.

IRIS will continue gathering data, taking advantage of computer modeling technology to process incredibly complex high-resolution images and spectrographic data. Understanding this better could show us how to predict the Sun’s chaotic ‘weather’ — vital if we want early warning when a solar flare or coronal mass ejection is coming straight at us.

(NASA via Ars Technica, image credit to NASA/IRIS/SDO)

Meanwhile in related links

 JUL 29, 2013

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Mysterious centaurs are comets, say NASA scientists

“Our data point to a cometary origin for most of the objects, suggesting they are coming from deeper out in the solar system.” – James Bauer

Centaurs are small celestial bodies orbiting our sun between Jupiter and Neptune. Their true identity has been an enduring astrophysical mystery. Are they asteroids flung out from the inner solar system? Or comets traveling in toward the sun from afar? Comets, NASA scientists now say. A new study of observations from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) finds most centaurs are comets.

 

Until now, astronomers were not certain whether centaurs are asteroids flung out from the inner solar system or comets traveling in toward the sun from afar. Because of their dual nature, they take their name from the creature in Greek mythology whose head and torso are human and legs are those of a horse.

“Just like the mythical creatures, the centaur objects seem to have a double life,” said James Bauer of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Bauer is lead author of a paper published online July 22 in the Astrophysical Journal. “Our data point to a cometary origin for most of the objects, suggesting they are coming from deeper out in the solar system.”

“Cometary origin” means an object likely is made from the same material as a comet, may have been an active comet in the past, and may be active again in the future.

The findings come from the largest infrared survey to date of centaurs and their more distant cousins, called scattered disk objects. NEOWISE, the asteroid-hunting portion of the WISE mission, gathered infrared images of 52 centaurs and scattered disk objects. Fifteen of the 52 are new discoveries. Centaurs and scattered disk objects orbit in an unstable belt. Ultimately, gravity from the giant planets will fling them either closer to the sun or farther away from their current locations.

Although astronomers previously observed some centaurs with dusty halos, a common feature of outgassing comets, and NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope also found some evidence for comets in the group, they had not been able to estimate the numbers of comets and asteroids.

Infrared data from NEOWISE provided information on the objects’ albedos, or reflectivity, to help astronomers sort the population. NEOWISE can tell whether a centaur has a matte and dark surface or a shiny one that reflects more light. The puzzle pieces fell into place when astronomers combined the albedo information with what was already known about the colors of the objects. Visible-light observations have shown centaurs generally to be either blue-gray or reddish in hue. A blue-gray object could be an asteroid or comet. NEOWISE showed that most of the blue-gray objects are dark, a telltale sign of comets. A reddish object is more likely to be an asteroid.

“Comets have a dark, soot-like coating on their icy surfaces, making them darker than most asteroids,” said the study’s co-author, Tommy Grav of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Ariz. “Comet surfaces tend to be more like charcoal, while asteroids are usually shinier like the moon.”

The results indicate that roughly two-thirds of the centaur population are comets, which come from the frigid outer reaches of our solar system. It is not clear whether the rest are asteroids. The centaur bodies have not lost their mystique entirely, but future research from NEOWISE may reveal their secrets further.

The paper is available online here.

Via NASA

 

Coronal Hole In Sun: NASA’s SOHO Satellite Captures Amazing Dark Spot Above Solar Surface [VIDEO] Kerry in secret final-status talks with Netanyahu and Abbas on borders, security, Jerusalem, Jordan Valley DEBKAfile Exclusive Report July 30, 2013

Posted on July 31, 2013 by luciferpeter

Kerry in secret final-status talks with Netanyahu and Abbas on borders, security, Jerusalem, Jordan Valley

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report July 30, 2013, 8:59 AM (IDT)

Tags:  John Kerry,  Israel-Palestinian talks,  Binyamin Netanyahu,  Mahmoud Abbas,

 

John Kerry hosts Israel, Palestinian peace negotiators.

The ceremonial launch of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations early Tuesday, July 30, over the Muslim iftar meal in the State Department Jefferson room, made a photogenic front for the real brass-tacks bargaining on core issues of the long Middle East dispute, which Secretary of State John Kerry has been handling discreetly with the principals, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. This was first revealed exclusively in the lastDEBKA Weekly issue of Friday, July 26.

While the formal US-led talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams were being set up for the benefit of the public in the US, the Arab world, Israel and the Palestinians, Kerry was putting hard questions to the Israeli and Palestinian leaders and pushing for answers on borders, security, the Jordan Rift Valley and Jerusalem.  From time to time, he brought Arab leaders into the process, especially from the Persian Gulf.
Abbas made his sudden trip to Cairo Monday, July 27 to demonstrate to the US Secretary and Israeli prime minister that he had his own lines to Arab rulers independent of Kerry’s tactics. In the end, his show fizzled. No important Egyptian leader had time to see him before the formal launch of talks in Washington or clue him in on the Egyptian military’s plans for the Gaza Strip and its Hamas rulers.
The technical aspects and negotiating procedures were left to the official negotiators, Justice Minister Tzipi Llivni and Saeb Erekat, to sort out Tuesday. However, DEBKAfile’s sources in Jerusalem and Washington report exclusively that Kerry had meanwhile challenged Netanyahu on three core issues:

Would he adopt the security arrangements-versus-borders formula conceded by his predecessor Ehud Olmert to President Obama and Abbas in early 2009, in which he offered to cede around 94.6 percent of the West Bank to the Palestinians?
Although the Palestinians never accepted the offer, they are now trying to make it the starting-point of the current round of talks. If Netanyahu rejected this, Kerry asked what alternative he had in mind in terms of territory he is prepared to cede on the West Bank – bearing in mind that Jewish settlements stand on app. 9.8 percent of the West Bank (not counting Jerusalem).
In this way, the US Secretary quietly launched final-status negotiations on future borders

He also asked the Israeli prime minister what he meant in terms of the scope and depth of Israel’s proposed withdrawal when he insisted that Israel must retain a security presence on the Jordan Rift Valley which marks part of Israel’s eastern border. Kerry wanted to know if Jewish communities would be removed and only a military presence left in place.

This question jumped the process fast forward to the interrelations between security measures and the final borders between the Israeli and Palestinian states.

Kerry also wanted to find out how much financial aid Israel was ready to commit for raising the standard of living of West Bank Palestinians.
A question he addressed to both Netanyahu and Abbas related to the deployment of an international force as a buffer between the Palestinians and the Israel Defense Forces.
The prime minister was open to discussing this plan. Abbas gave his answer from Cairo Monday night when he declared that “not a single Israeli must remain in the Palestinian state, whether soldier or civilian.” He indicated that he would not object to an international force on the lines of UNIFIL in Lebanon or the Multinational Force in Sinai,or even NATO units.
He also asked Kerry to put forward ideas on the Jerusalem question and the shape of the Palestinian state’s borders.

Coronal Hole In Sun: NASA’s SOHO Satellite Captures Amazing Dark Spot Above Solar Surface [VIDEO]

By iScienceTimes Staff on July 30, 2013 11:42 AM EDT

 

 

 

 

A coronal hole in the sun was captured by NASA’s SOHO observatory. The dark, cool spot of the sun’s atmosphere covered a quarter of the sun. (Photo: NASA)

A coronal hole in the sun has been spotted by NASA‘s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO.

But fear not, for the coronal hole is nothing to be alarmed about. A coronal hole is simply a cooler region of the sun’s atmosphere, or corona, where solar wind and particles are released from the sun at a speed of 500 miles per second.

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First discovered in the 1970s, coronal holes appear as a dark spot on the sun. The current hole covers about a quarter of the sun — it’s about 400,000 miles across, or the equivalent of 50 Earths lined up.

According to NASA, coronal holes in the sun are typical, though their number, size and location changes from time to time. Though scientists do know what coronal holes are, they aren’t sure why they occur in the first place.

“While it’s unclear what causes coronal holes, they correlate to areas on the sun where magnetic fields soar up and away, failing to loop back down to the surface, as they do elsewhere,” said Karen Fox at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

The SOHO project, a joint effort between the European Space Agency and NASA, was launched in December 1995 to study the sun’s internal structure and outer atmosphere, as well as solar winds. The $1.27 billion satellitemonitors the sun while orbiting around Lagrange Point 1, a spot between the Earth and sun about 932,000 miles from Earth.

READ MORE

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NASA’s Grand Challenge Asks Public To Help Stop Asteroids From Destroying Earth  

 

 

 

© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

Coronal hole in sun: NASA spots giant hole in the sun (Video)

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A large coronal hole in sun has been spotted by NASA and photographed. Fox News reports on July 29 that the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) observed the giant hole in the north pole of the sun. A coronal hole is an area of the sun that appears much darker than the rest and has open magnetic field lines. Coronal holes are also associated with solar winds.

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The giant coronal hole recently seen by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory has covered a fourth of the sun at one point. Although the size of this hole has led to more attention, coronal holes are common on the sun. They are darker regions that have less density and cooler temperatures.

Despite being discovered decades ago, NASA shares that researchers are still trying to discover why coronal holes form. Karen Fox mentioned, “While it’s unclear what causes coronal holes, they correlate to areas on the sun where magnetic fields soar up and away, failing to loop back down to the surface, as they do elsewhere.” It is estimated that this hole measures 400,000 miles in length. The activity of coronal holes increases as the sun reaches its 11-year maximum. It is also common for them to appear near the poles as the maximum gets closer.

 

Coronal hole in sun

Photo credit:  

ESA, NASA/SOHO

 

Coronal Hole Seen Over Sun’s North Pole

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Suggested by the author:

·         July 30, 2013

 

NASA Observes Giant Coronal Hole In Sun

 

 

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida — NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured this picture of the sun on June 18, 2013, showing a huge coronal hole – seen here in dark blue – spread out over almost the entire upper left quadrant of the sun. 

 

 

A coronal hole is an area of the sun’s atmosphere, the corona, where the magnetic field opens up and the material flows quickly out. This results in a cooler and less dense atmosphere than the surrounding areas. This coronal hole is at least 400,000 miles across, which is more than 50 Earths side by side. Coronal holes spew out fast solar wind, probably traveling at about 400-500 miles per second. This is roughly twice the speed of the normal solar wind, the solar material that is constantly streaming off the sun in every direction to fill the solar system.

Coronal holes were first spotted by NASA’s Skylab in the early 1970s. Scientists now know that their size and number varies in concert with the sun’s solar cycle, which reaches a maximum of activity approximately every 11 years. Every time the sun heads toward that maximum, currently expected for late 2013 or early 2014, the coronal holes move closer and closer to the sun’s poles.

This image of the sun from June 18, 2013, shows a coronal hole – that is, an area of cooler, less dense material in the sun’s atmosphere, the corona – in the upper left side, represented in blue. In this image from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, the blue color represents light in the 171 Angstrom wavelength, which shows the coolest material present in the image. Two other wavelengths of light are also shown in the picture: 211 Angstroms, in red, and 193 Angstroms in brown. 

 

 

Image Credit: NASA/SDO

Coronal Hole in Sun: Reaching 11-Year Max.

 

By Tara MacIsaacEpoch Times | July 30, 2013

Last Updated: July 30, 2013 10:31 am

 

 

   

 

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Coronal hole in sun: A hole in the sun about 400,000 miles across was observed by NASA on July 18.

Not to worry, this is normal. Though this hole—spanning the length of 50 Earths side-by-side—is larger than any NASA has observed in the last year or so. And, it is moving closer to the sun’s north pole—a phenomenon that happens every 11 years as the solar cycle comes to an end and the sun reaches a maximum of activity.

This maximum is expected for late 2013 or early 2014.

Holes in the sun, known as coronal holes, can have the effect of generating some aurora on Earth, says NASA.

The holes spew solar material in winds roughly twice the speed found on other parts of the sun. The magnetic field opens up to produce the hole.

Solar dynamic loops reveal a simultaneous explosion and implosion, plus evidence for magnetic reconnection

Posted on July 21, 2013 by luciferpeter

July 20, 2013

 

Solar dynamic loops reveal a simultaneous explosion and implosion, plus evidence for magnetic reconnection

 

Solar dynamic loops reveal a simultaneous explosion and implosion, plus evidence for magnetic reconnection 

Solar dynamic loops reveal a simultaneous explosion and implosion, plus evidence for magnetic reconnection

Jul 02, 2013

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-07-solar-dynamic-loops-reveal-simultaneous.html#jCp

Solar dynamic loops reveal a simultaneous explosion and implosion, plus evidence for magnetic reconnection

July 2nd, 2013 in Space & Earth / Space Exploration

 

Image from NASA’s Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO) at 17.7 nanometres showing the flaring active region on 9 March 2012. The coronal loops that contract during the flare are indicated by the labels L1 to L4, outer to inner. Credit: NASA/SDO/University of Glasgow.

 

Image from NASA’s Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO) at 17.7 nanometres showing the flaring active region on 9 March 2012. The coronal loops that contract during the flare are indicated by the labels L1 to L4, outer to inner. Credit: NASA/SDO/University of Glasgow.

 

(Phys.org) —Movies of giant loops projecting from the surface of the Sun are giving new insights into the complex mechanisms that drive solar flares and Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs). These eruptions release vast energy and electrically charged particles that can affect the Earth through space weather. Imagery from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), used in two separate studies, shows the dynamics of loops before, during and after eruptions. Results have been presented at the National Astronomy Meeting in St Andrews.

Coronal loops are giant magnetic arches filled with hot plasma at temperatures of over a million degrees Celsius. The structures are anchored in the dense photosphere, the visible surface of the Sun. The loops form the building blocks of the corona, the halo surrounding the Sun that can be seen during a total eclipse. They are dynamic structures that oscillate back and forth after explosive events such as solar flares.

Researchers from the University of Glasgow observed four groups of loops that contracted rapidly during a flare on 9 March 2012. The loops had a ‘staggered start’ to their collapse, showing delays of 60–80 seconds from the inner to the outer loops.

“This event is a great example of a simultaneous implosion and explosion,” said Dr Paulo Simões. “Our interpretation is that energy is transferred from the magnetic field to power the flare, leaving a pocket of reduced magnetic support that causes an implosion. The staggering between the loop contractions is caused by the time delay needed for the ‘information’ about the loss of support to travel outwards.”

 

Version of same image of active region with frame superimposed showing time evolution of the heights of the collapsing loops (taken through the white line drawn across the imploding loops) showing the cleat collapse and oscillations of the bright structures around 03:40 UT on 9 March 2012. Credit: NASA/SDO/University of Glasgow

The loop contractions are triggered at the same time as the flare begins emitting intense X-rays and microwaves. The three outer loops show clear oscillations even as they contract, with distinct periods and phases. After being compressed by the collapsing loops, the flaring loops oscillate until they find a new equilibrium, as indicated by the X-ray emission from the hot plasma. During the contraction a wave blast revealed by extreme ultraviolet radiation spreads away from the source of the flare.

“This presents an intriguing picture of how magnetic energy is moved rapidly around the solar corona during a flare,” said Dr Simões.

Flares and CMEs are thought to be driven by a process called magnetic reconnection, in which magnetic field lines in plasma break and then re-join to field lines flowing in the opposite direction. Energy that has built up over days or months is released in just a few minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Animation showing time evolution of the collapsing loops observed by SDO on 9 March 2012 Credit: NASA/SDO/University of Glasgow

In a separate study, a team from the University of Warwick has observed the first evidence that loop oscillations are driven directly by magnetic reconnection processes.

“The structure and dynamics of the solar corona can be imaged in exquisite detail and over an unprecedented range of temperatures by SDO. Oscillating loops are a useful tool for probing conditions in the corona. This offers a unique opportunity to discover the tell-tale signatures of magnetic reconnection,” said Rebecca White, who presented the findings on Tuesday 2nd July.

The Warwick team used SDO data to study the behaviour of loops following two eruptions: a CME on 3 November 2010 and a solar flare on 8 May 2012. With the first eruption, they saw a coronal loop form below the bubble of material ejected during the CME. There appeared to be a strand connecting the CME with the top of the loop. Unusually, parts of the loop were observed to oscillate in different directions about a central pivot point.

“The loop appears to twist about a fixed point along its length. Not only is the form of this oscillation highly unusual but the coronal loop has a temperature of between 9 and 11 million degrees – this is much hotter than most loops we see, which are generally between 1 and 3 million degrees. This extreme heat has been generated by the reconnection processes,” said White. “For the first time we can see a direct link between the reconnection process itself, causing the formation of the loop below the ejected bubble, and the oscillations of the loops.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SDO false-colour composite movie of solar flare event on 8 May 2012 showing anti-phase oscillations of coronal loops. Credit: NASA/University of Warwick

The second observation showed two separate but adjacent loops oscillating in opposite directions to one another. Previous observations have shown loop oscillations caused by blast waves emanating from the flare, however this pushes the loops in a single direction.

“Again, this cannot be explained by a blast wave since this would push both loops in the same direction. We think that the oscillations here are a direct result of the flare reconnection process changing the structure of the corona between the loops and sucking them towards each. These observations demonstrate that loop oscillations are a valuable tool for studying 3D reconnection processes at work,” said White.

More information: R.S. White, E. Verwichte & C. Foullon, First observation of a transverse vertical oscillation during the formation of a hot post flare loop, A&A, 545, A129 (2012)

Provided by Royal Astronomical Society

 

“Solar dynamic loops reveal a simultaneous explosion and implosion, plus evidence for magnetic reconnection.” July 2nd, 2013. 

Jun 26, 2013 08:20 PM EDT

NASA’s Biggest Day: IRIS Blastoff in 24-Hours to Study the Massive Coronal Hole on the Sun

 

 

 

IRIS

Space engineers at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California couple the Pegasus XL rocket with the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, solar observatory to the Orbital Sciences L-1011 carrier aircraft.

NASA will launch its IRIS mission on Thursday, June 27 at 10:27 p.m. EDT. Live NASA Television launch coverage begins at 9 p.m. 

On June 18, 2013, NASA had discovered a giant hole in the Sun, which is heading our way.

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory had captured a picture of the sun, showing a huge coronal hole, which spread out over almost the entire upper left quadrant of the sun. NASA has described the giant gaping coronal gap as “extensive”, “rotating our way” and bigger than anything they have seen in over a year.

This coronal hole is at least 400,000 miles across, which is more than 50 Earths side by side.

NASA’s Skylab first spotted coronal holes in the early 1970s.

According to NASA, their size and number varies in concert with the sun’s solar cycle, which reaches a maximum of activity approximately every 11 years. Late 2013 or early 2014, as the sun will head toward the maximum, the coronal holes move closer and closer to the sun’s poles.

NASA will study the mysteries of the sun, yet many things to unveil.

IRIS will open doors for new discoveries. Using spectrometry and imaging, IRIS will trace the flow of energy and plasma through the chromospheres and transition region into the sun’s corona.

NASA said:

“The IRIS mission will observe how solar material moves, gathers energy and heats up as it travels through a largely unexplored region of the solar atmosphere. The interface region, located between the sun’s visible surface and upper atmosphere, is where most of the sun’s ultraviolet emission is generated. These emissions impact the near-Earth space environment and Earth’s climate.”

Source

 

 

 

 

 

Massive Coronal Hole on the Sun

 

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured this picture of the sun on June 18, 2013, showing a huge coronal hole – seen here in dark blue – spread out over almost the entire upper left quadrant of the sun. A coronal hole is an area of the sun’s atmosphere, the corona, where the magnetic field opens up and the material flows quickly out. This results in a cooler and less dense atmosphere than the surrounding areas. This coronal hole is at least 400,000 miles across, which is more than 50 Earths side by side. Coronal holes spew out fast solar wind, probably traveling at about 400-500 miles per second. This is roughly twice the speed of the normal solar wind, the solar material that is constantly streaming off the sun in every direction to fill the solar system.

Coronal holes were first spotted by NASA’s Skylab in the early 1970s. Scientists now know that their size and number varies in concert with the sun’s solar cycle, which reaches a maximum of activity approximately every 11 years. Every time the sun heads toward that maximum, currently expected for late 2013 or early 2014, the coronal holes move closer and closer to the sun’s poles.

This image of the sun from June 18, 2013, shows a coronal hole – that is, an area of cooler, less dense material in the sun’s atmosphere, the corona – in the upper left side, represented in blue. In this image from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, the blue color represents light in the 171 Angstrom wavelength, which shows the coolest material present in the image. Two other wavelengths of light are also shown in the picture: 211 Angstroms, in red, and 193 Angstroms in brown. Credit: NASA/SDO

Page Last Updated: June 28th, 2013
Page Editor: NASA Administrator
NASA Official: Brian Dunbar

July 20, 2013

Image of the Day: Gigantic Coronal Hole Found Hovering Over Sun’s North Pole

 

 

 

 

The European Space Agency/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO, captured this image of a gigantic coronal hole hovering over the sun’s north pole on July 18, 2013, at 9:06 a.m. EDT. Coronal holes are dark, low density regions of the sun’s outermost atmosphere, the corona. They contain little solar material, have lower temperatures, and therefore, appear much darker than their surroundings.

Coronal holes are a typical feature on the sun, though they appear at different places and with more frequency at different times of the sun’s activity cycle. The activity cycle is currently ramping up toward what is known as solar maximum, currently predicted for late 2013. During this portion of the cycle, the number of coronal holes decreases.

During solar max, the magnetic fields on the sun reverse and new coronal holes appear near the poles with the opposite magnetic alignment. The coronal holes then increase in size and number, extending further from the poles as the sun moves toward solar minimum again. At such times, coronal holes have appeared that are even larger than this one.

The holes are important to our understanding of space weather, as they are the source of a high-speed wind of solar particles that streams off the sun some three times faster than the slower wind elsewhere. While it’s unclear what causes coronal holes, they correlate to areas on the sun where magnetic fields soar up and away, failing to loop back down to the surface, as they do elsewhere.

The Daily Galaxy via ESA&NASA/SOHO

Large Coronal Hole Near the Sun’s North Pole

enlarge

 

The European Space Agency/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO, captured this image of a gigantic coronal hole hovering over the sun’s north pole on July 18, 2013, at 9:06 a.m. EDT. (Credit: ESA & NASA/SOHO)

July 19, 2013 — The European Space Agency/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO, captured this image of a gigantic coronal hole hovering over the sun’s north pole on July 18, 2013, at 9:06 a.m. EDT. Coronal holes are dark, low density regions of the sun’s outermost atmosphere, the corona. They contain little solar material, have lower temperatures, and therefore, appear much darker than their surroundings.

 

Coronal holes are a typical feature on the sun, though they appear at different places and with more frequency at different times of the sun’s activity cycle. The activity cycle is currently ramping up toward what is known as solar maximum, currently predicted for late 2013. During this portion of the cycle, the number of coronal holes decreases. During solar max, the magnetic fields on the sun reverse and new coronal holes appear near the poles with the opposite magnetic alignment. The coronal holes then increase in size and number, extending further from the poles as the sun moves toward solar minimum again. At such times, coronal holes have appeared that are even larger than this one.
The holes are important to our understanding of space weather, as they are the source of a high-speed wind of solar particles that streams off the sun some three times faster than the slower wind elsewhere. While it’s unclear what causes coronal holes, they correlate to areas on the sun where magnetic fields soar up and away, failing to loop back down to the surface, as they do elsewhere.

NASA spots giant dark hole in the sun video.foxnews.com

Posted on July 31, 2013 by luciferpeter

Spacecraft Sees Giant ‘Hole’ In the Sun

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Megan Gannon July 28, 2013

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A space telescope aimed at the sun has spotted a gigantic hole in the solar atmosphere — a dark spot that covers nearly a quarter of our closest star, spewing solar material and gas into space.

The so-called coronal hole over the sun’s north pole came into view between July 13 and 18 and was observed by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO. NASA released avideo of the sun hole as seen by the SOHO spacecraft, showing the region as a vast dark spot surrounded by solar activity.

Coronal holes are darker, cooler regions of the sun’s atmosphere, or corona, containing little solar material. In these gaps, magnetic field lines whip out into the solar wind rather than looping back to the sun’s surface. Coronal holes can affect space weather, as they send solar particles streaming off the sun about three times faster than the slower wind unleashed elsewhere from the sun’s atmosphere, according to a description from NASA.

“While it’s unclear what causes coronal holes, they correlate to areas on the sun where magnetic fields soar up and away, failing to loop back down to the surface, as they do elsewhere,” NASA’s Karen Fox at the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., explained in an image description.

These holes are not uncommon, but their frequency changes with the solar activity cycle. The sun is currently reaching its 11-year peak in activity, known as the solar maximum. Around the time of this peak, the sun’s poles switch their magnetism. The number of coronal holes typically decreases leading up to the switch.

After the reversal, new coronal holes appear near the poles. Then as the sun approaches the solar minimum again, the holes creep closer to the equator, growing in both size and number, according to NASA.

The $1.27-billion (1 billion euros) SOHO satellite was launched in 1995 and is flying a joint mission between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). It watches solar activity from an orbit about the Lagrange Point 1, a gravitationally stable spot between Earth and the sun that is about 932,000 miles (1.5 million kilometers) from our planet.

Follow Megan Gannon on Twitter and Google+. Follow us @SpacedotcomFacebook or Google+. Originally published on SPACE.com.

Follow us @SpacedotcomFacebook or Google+. Originally published on SPACE.com. – See more at: http://www.space.com/22005-comet-ison-risky-road-ahead.html#sthash.PT2YlKVt.dpuf

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Earthquakes Contribute to Global Warming by Releasing Methane from Ocean Floor

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First Posted: Jul 29, 2013 09:18 AM EDT

 

Earthquakes Contribute to Global Warming by Releasing Methane from Ocean Floor (Photo : Reuters)

Earthquakes contribute to global warming by releasing the highly potent greenhouse gas, methane, from the ocean floor.

A study conducted by Swiss and German scientists has uncovered a natural source of greenhouse gas emission – methane.  Researchers emphasize that climate scientists need to consider the amount of methane being released as earthquakes rip open ocean floors, in order to better understand the various sources of greenhouse gases.

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Researchers from the University of Bremen discovered that an underwater quake that occurred in Pakistan 70 years ago ripped opened the sea bed and released the potent greenhouse gas, ‘methane’, into the atmosphere.  

“We suggest there is a new source that they might want to consider in the future,” David Fischer, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Bremen in Germany and the lead author of the study, was quoted in The New York Times.

The researchers analyzed the sediment cores gathered in 2007 from two locations in the northern Arabian Sea. Referred to as the Makran Subduction zone, the plate boundary has triggered the most terrible and deadliest earthquakes like the one that occurred in 1945 in Pakistan. An 8.0 magnitude earthquake in Pakistan gave rise to a tsunami claiming around 4,000 lives, reports. LiveScience.

It is well known that sea floors are an ideal location for the formation of methane as deep ocean waters and sea beds are cold and methane hydrates are stable under excess pressure and low temperatures. The pressure below the water depth of 350 meters is just right to stabilize the hydrates.

For the present study, the researchers analyzed sediments taken from locations where the cores indicated the presence of large amount of methane. On calculating the rate of methane in the cores they estimated that there had been a significant increase in the level of gas since the 1945 earthquake.

The researchers calculated that over the past decade nearly 7.4 million cubic meters of methane has escaped to the surface.

“Based on several indicators, we postulated that the earthquake led to a fracturing of the sediments, releasing the gas that had been trapped below the hydrates into the ocean,” Fischer said.  

Compared to carbon dioxide, methane is a more potent greenhouse gas. A recent study by researchers at the University of Cambridge and Erasmus University in the Netherlands states that the release of methane in the Arctic could increase the melting of sea ice and the resultant change in climate will cost the global economy up to $60 trillion in the coming decades.

From several years scientists have suspected a strong association between earthquakes and underwater methane bursts but this the first study that confirms this association and has been documented in the journal Nature Geoscience.

DOOMSDAY IMMINENT. ISAIAH 19, ZEPHANIAH 1, JEREMIAH 25:15-34, 1 BILLION HYDROGEN BOMBS DETONATED ALL AT ONCE. PUT A BLOODY, SUDDEN END TO THE HUMAN CIVILIZATION, BRINGING DOWN THE HUMAN RACE INTO RUINS, ASH.

 

NASA spots giant dark hole in the sun

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Amazing images from space

http://video.foxnews.com/v/2574867146001/nasa-spots-giant-dark-hole-in-the-sun/?playlist_id=1821663211001

NASA’s IRIS telescope may help predict harmful solar storms Scientists worry an extreme solar storm could cause blackouts of as long as two years in the US By Martyn Williams, IDG News Service July 26, 2013 08:20 AM ET

Posted on August 1, 2013 by luciferpeter

NASA’s IRIS telescope may help predict harmful solar storms

Scientists worry an extreme solar storm could cause blackouts of as long as two years in the US

By Martyn Williams, IDG News Service 
July 26, 2013 08:20 AM ET

 

 

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IDG News Service – NASA’s newest telescope is giving scientists their clearest pictures yet of the sun’s atmosphere, and in doing so could help mitigate the potentially devastating effects an extreme solar storm could have on our power and communications networks on Earth.

Launched a month ago, the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, on Thursday sent some of its first images of the sun back to Earth. The pictures should help scientists form a better understanding of the sun’s weather, which is important because its influence on Earth goes well beyond providing sunlight and warmth.

(See a video version of this story on YouTube.)

An ever-changing pattern of instability on the sun’s surface causes particles to be thrown outward, sometimes directly toward the Earth. These eruptions can take the form of solar flares, which cause the awe-inspiring northern lights, but can also cause the Earth’s atmosphere to expand and increase the amount of drag on low-Earth-orbit satellites, such as those used for spying and GPS navigation, shortening their lifespan.

The most violent eruptions can have a much larger impact, including potentially knocking power grids offline and leaving millions without electricity. Such an eruption occurred in 1859, frying parts of the international telegraph system, which at the time was the main medium for long-distance communications.

If such an event occurred today, with electricity and Internet communications such a fundamental part of daily life, it’s hard to even fully imagine the potential impact. A recent report from Lloyds of London suggested the damage from a violent eruption could leave 20 million people without power for as long as two years.

All solar weather travels through the lower solar atmosphere, and IRIS contains a powerful spectrograph that will focus on this region of the sun. Thus, scientists hope IRIS will give them a better understanding of these solar events and perhaps help them find a way to predict them.

“These beautiful images from IRIS are going to help us understand how the sun’s lower atmosphere might power a host of events around the sun,” Adrian Daw, mission scientist for IRIS at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a statement. “Any time you look at something in more detail than has ever been seen before, it opens up new doors to understanding. There’s always that potential element of surprise.”

The Earth is prone to the impact of solar weather because the particles hitting Earth from the sun are magnetized.

“When that magnetic field hits the Earth’s magnetic field, we have two magnetic fields interacting and you create electrical currents,” said Karel Schrijver, a senior fellow at Lockheed Martin Space Systems’ advanced technology center in Palo Alto, California. Lockheed Martin built the spectrograph that lies at the heart of IRIS’ observations of the sun.

The electrical currents will run through any conductor on Earth, Schrijver said, and have their greatest effect on high-voltage power lines that sit at the heart of the electric grid. The lines are like inter-city freeways for electricity, carrying power across vast distances at voltages as high as 765,000 volts. Large transformers are used to “step down” the voltage where the lines connect with regional distribution systems, and it is those transformers that are at risk. If the geomagnetic storm is large enough, the induced currents can melt the transformers.

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One of the strongest major storms in recent memory occurred in March 1989. Over a period of several minutes, the Hydro Quebec power grid in eastern Canada collapsed and 6 million customers lost power. The blackout lasted almost nine hours and caused an estimated C$2 billion in economic losses — and it could have been worse. The effects almost cascaded to regional power grids, which could have blacked out the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions of the U.S.

Scientists and power grid operators worry about the prospect of something much larger, and such an event would not be without precedent.

Over the final days of August and first days of September 1859, an extreme solar storm occurred that ranks as the strongest ever recorded. It enabled amateur astronomers to make the first-ever observations of solar flares, and such giant storms are now named after one of those astronomers, Richard Carrington.

The Carrington event was so strong that aurorae, usually confined to the far north, could be seen in the night sky as far south as the Caribbean. Electricity still wasn’t widely in use, but the storm shut down parts of the international telegraph network. In some places, telegraph lines were reported to be sparking, and The New York Times reported from Montreal that the Canadian Telegraph Co. took five hours to send a 400-word report because of the bad conditions.

“So completely were the wires under the influence of the Aurora Borealis, it was found utterly impossible to communicate between the telegraph stations, and the line was closed for the night,” the newspaper reported on Aug. 30, 1859.

Historical records suggest Carrington-level events occur every 50 to 250 years, so Earth is now at the 150-year sweetspot for a repeat.

A recent report by Lloyd’s of London predicted that another Carrington-level event is “almost inevitable in the near future” and paints a concerning picture of its potential effects. Should the U.S. be hit head on by such a storm, the report says, 20 million to 40 million people could be left without power for anything between 16 days and two years. The recovery time is so long because high-voltage transformers are such specialty items. Power utilities don’t keep spare ones lying around, and they take up to 16 months to build.

The economic impact of such an event could be as high as US$2.6 trillion, the Lloyds report said.

The power industry isn’t ignoring the threat. An April 2011 workshop between electricity grid operators from the U.S. and Canada resulted in the creation of a space weather alert system for the industry, and plans for coordination should a major geomagnetic storm be detected. Grid operators would have between 15 hours and two days to prepare for the storm by increasing reserves, reducing power transfers and lightening the load on susceptible equipment.

But any reduction in the availability of power could itself have an economic impact, so it’s a situation to be avoided unless the likelihood of serious damage to the power grid is high.

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Learning more about the sun’s weather can only help scientists to provide warnings for such events.

“What we don’t know is how it works, what in detail it will damage, or how likely it is that that damage will spread,” Schrijver said. “And the difficulty with it is that these things happen only rarely. Once a century is when a really big solar event occurs, and our technological infrastructure has changed so much, we’ve never been exposed to it.”

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn’s e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

July 29, 2013

NASA Discovery: Giant Hole In The Sun Spews Solar Material Into Space

 

NASA scientists pointing a telescope at the sun have discovered a gigantic hole in the solar atmosphere. The dark spot covers nearly a quarter of our closest star and is shooting solar material and gas into space.

 

Known as a coronal hole, the dark spot is located over the sun’s north pole. The discovery was witnessed from July 13 through July 18. NASA’s discovery was made using the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO.

Following the discovery, NASA released a video of the sun’s hole.

A Coronal hole is a darker, cool region of the sun’s atmosphere where solar material is contained. In the gaps, magnetic field lines whip out into the solar wind instead of looping back to the sun’s surface.

The sun’s holes are able to affect space weather as they send solar particles shooting away from the sun’s surface. Materials are hurled away from the sun in coronal spots at three times faster than regular solar winds.

According to NASA:

“While it’s unclear what causes coronal holes, they correlate to areas on the sun where magnetic fields soar up and away, failing to loop back down to the surface, as they do elsewhere.”

Coronal holes are not uncommon, but, with the sun reaching its 11-year peak in activity, they typically decrease in number. The 11-year peak is the solar maximum in which the sun’s poles switch their magnetism.

When the poles reversal is complete, new coronal holes will appear near each pole. As the solar minimum appears, the holes move closer to the sun’s equator as they grow in size and number.

NASA’s discovery is just one more in a line of many to be discovered since the agency launched the $1.27 billion SOHO satellite in 1995.

SOHO is a joint effort between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). SOHO watches the sun from a gravitational stable spot between the Earth and the Sun known as Lagrange Point 1.

Read more at http://www.inquisitr.com/875772/nasa-discovery-giant-hole-in-the-sun-spews-solar-material-into-space/#eXUwSmxwwI3LIrX1.99 

Coronal Hole In Sun: NASA’s SOHO Satellite Captures Amazing Dark Spot Above Solar Surface [VIDEO]

By iScienceTimes Staff on July 30, 2013 11:42 AM EDT

 

 

 

 

A coronal hole in the sun was captured by NASA’s SOHO observatory. The dark, cool spot of the sun’s atmosphere covered a quarter of the sun. (Photo: NASA)

A coronal hole in the sun has been spotted by NASA‘s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO.

But fear not, for the coronal hole is nothing to be alarmed about. A coronal hole is simply a cooler region of the sun’s atmosphere, or corona, where solar wind and particles are released from the sun at a speed of 500 miles per second.

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First discovered in the 1970s, coronal holes appear as a dark spot on the sun. The current hole covers about a quarter of the sun — it’s about 400,000 miles across, or the equivalent of 50 Earths lined up.

According to NASA, coronal holes in the sun are typical, though their number, size and location changes from time to time. Though scientists do know what coronal holes are, they aren’t sure why they occur in the first place.

“While it’s unclear what causes coronal holes, they correlate to areas on the sun where magnetic fields soar up and away, failing to loop back down to the surface, as they do elsewhere,” said Karen Fox at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

The SOHO project, a joint effort between the European Space Agency and NASA, was launched in December 1995 to study the sun’s internal structure and outer atmosphere, as well as solar winds. The $1.27 billion satellitemonitors the sun while orbiting around Lagrange Point 1, a spot between the Earth and sun about 932,000 miles from Earth.

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60 Billion Planets In Milky Way Are Habitable For Alien Life, Study Says

NASA’s Grand Challenge Asks Public To Help Stop Asteroids From Destroying Earth  

 

 

 

© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

Earth acts as a giant particle accelerator, creating the dangerous Van Allen radiation belts By Graham Templeton on July 29

Posted on August 1, 2013 by luciferpeter

Earth acts as a giant particle accelerator, creating the dangerous Van Allen radiation belts

 

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One of the many, many worries people had when first sending humans to the Moon had to do with the Van Allen radiation belts. These are layered, two-lobed areas of space around the Earth that have an unusually high density of high-energy charged particles, including electrons. These electrons damage electronics, penetrating deep into a spacecraft and often causing harmful releases of energy in semiconductors or electrical relays. When the Apollo missions sent humans through these belts of space, NASA simply had no idea what to expect since prior human flights had never gone far enough out to cross the fields. The astronauts zipped through unharmed, however, and today the Van Allen belts aren’t thought to pose a significant danger to living things so long as they are shielded and don’t spend too long inside.

However, even after all that, we still had no clear understanding of why the belts were so dangerous to electronics — an invisible force appeared to be ramping up these charged particles to nearly the speed of light, but where was that force coming from? We eventually developed two competing theories, one which said the source of accelerating energy was foreign, the other arguing that it was local. We know the particles mostly come from gusts of solar wind, but is there something intrinsic to our area of space that gives the particles a boost? This week the journal Science published the answer: it’s the Earth’s own magnetic field that makes the Van Allen belts so dangerous.

The cause, it seems, are lower-energy electrons that give off just the right frequency of electromagnetic radiation, in this case in the radio portion of the spectrum. It’s a powerful enough source of energy to be detectable with a hand-held antenna and headphones, though that can’t be too surprising given the level of energy it can impart to particles in the Van Allen belts. Lead researcher Geoffrey Reeves likens the effect to hitting a tether ball: “The waves have just the right frequency to hit that tether ball each time it comes around, at just the right time, so it goes faster.” Eventually, these electron tether balls approach relativistic speeds.

 

For decades it was believed that Earth had only two Van Allen belts, but just a few months ago the Van Allen probes discovered a third, much farther out than the first two. It turned out to be transient, eventually being blown away by a strong solar shockwave. Still, as we become increasingly dependent on global communications technology, a detailed understanding of these belts of space will become more important. Everything from GPS satellites to research telescopes shield their electronics and generally shut down when entering them to minimize the chance of damage.

Even then, solar storms and local geomagnetic phenomena can swell the fields dramatically, sometimes engulfing whole fleets of satellites with little warning. It’s only recently that scientists have truly appreciated how volatile these fields of space can be. Right now, their changes are often unpredictable — but this breakthrough might help us change that. Understanding the nature of the the space around our planet will be critical to predicting its actions.

Interestingly, there is a proposition to actually destroy the Van Allen belts with a program called the High Voltage Orbiting Long Tether (HiVOLT). This system of five 100 kilometer-long charged tethers would be deployed from satellites and magnetically deflect the charged particles. This would disburse them remarkably quickly, with projections putting the electron flux at just 1% of today’s level after two months of operation.

Regardless, understanding the Van Allen belts will be necessary if want to have any hope of continuing to advance our mechanization of the skies at the current pace.

Now read: Hubble discovers the first blue planet outside the Solar System, but it isn’t covered in water

Research paper: doi:10.1126science.1237743 – “Electron Acceleration in the Heart of the Van Allen Radiation Belts”

NASA spots a massive hole near the Sun’s north pole

 

NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) has captured images of an unusually large coronal hole on the surface of the Sun. At one point, it was so large that it covered nearly a quarter of the Sun’s visible disk — a distance equivalent to 50 Earths placed side-by-side.

As dramatic as this sounds, coronal holes are nothing to worry about. The phenomenon happens every 11 years as the solar cycle comes to an end and the Sun attains its solar maximum — a regularly occurring event in which the magnetic fields on the Sun reverse and new coronal holes appear near the poles with the opposite magnetic alignment.

 

Photo: ESA & NASA/SOHO. Taken on July 18.

These holes are dark, low density regions located in the outermost region of the atmosphere. They contain little solar material and are significantly cooler than their surroundings, which gives them their darker appearance.

According to NASA, coronal holes can influence some aurora on Earth. After magnetic forces open them up, they spew solar material at roughly twice the speed found on other parts of the solar surface.

[Via NASA]

ecticut Blossoms in Gulf of MexicoBolus of Saharan Blows Into Atlantic, Lowering Hurricane Odds »

Why Has the Sun Developed a Huge Hole?

By Tom Yulsman | July 30, 2013 7:07 pm

 

|See updates below | In case you haven’t heard about it, a hugechunk portion of the sun’s corona has indeed gone missing. But even if you have heard about this so-called “coronal hole,” click on the screenshot above. It’ll take you to a new animation of the phenomenon posted to the web today by NASA. It’s really dramatic.

| Update 7/31/13: After posting this piece, I had second thoughts about my use of the word “chunk” in the original headline (which read “Why is a Huge Chunk of the Sun Missing”) and in the first paragraph. A huge portion of the sun’s corona, or outer atmosphere, has indeed gone missing. (See the explanation below.) But the word “chunk” implies that a really thick piece of the sun is gone. That’s not true. So I’ve changed the headline and the first paragraph to reflect this. |

The animation consists of images sent back to Earth by NASA’s Solar & Heliospheric Observatory spacecraft, or SOHO. The large, roughly triangular dark area is the coronal hole.

The animation above dates to July 16th. Click here to see another animation, covering July 20-22.

Corey Powell, who writes the awesome “Out There” blog here at Discover, was interviewed about the phenomenon today on the Fox News program America’s Newsroom. Check out the interview in its entirety here.

Corey’s money quote:  

You’ll notice that part of the sun is missing . . . This part that’s missing, the reason it’s dark, is that whole chunk of the sun basically ripped off, blew out and is coming our way at about 2 million miles an hour.

Some explanation: The sun can develop a coronal hole when a portion of its magnetic field fails to loop back onto the surface, as it usually does. This allows more solar material to escape into space. In other words, it makes the solar wind even windier. That’s the stuff that’s flying out into space. The region looks dark because there’s simply less hot and bright solar material left behind.

Corey was quick to point out that formation of coronal holes isn’t unusual. But to be sure, this one is larger than most. Measured from one side to the other, the hole is about 80 times as wide as the Earth. “So this is an incredible chunk of the Sun that’s flying out,” he said.

Earth is shielded from the material in the solar wind by it’s magnetic field. But when solar material hits the field, it can jostle it in a way that causes disruption to satellites, power lines and industrial equipment. And sometimes that disruption can be pretty severe.

Not to worry. I checked the forecast from the Space Weather Prediction Center from today (July 30), and nothing terribly dramatic appears to be in store, at least for the next few days:

The geomagnetic field is expected to be at quiet levels on days one and two (31 Jul, 01 Aug) and quiet to unsettled levels on day three (02 Aug).

 

CATEGORIZED UNDER: ASTRONOMYSELECTSUNTOP-POSTS

MORE ABOUT: CORONAL HOLECORY POWELLOUT THERESOHOSOLAR AND HELIOSPHERIC OBSERVATORYSOLAR PHYSICS

Sun Opens Explosive Plasma ‘Arms’ in Solar Eruption (Video)

SPACE.com Staff   |   July 31, 2013 06:47pm ET

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A sun-watching spacecraft spotted our closest star opening its arms to the cosmos. Two strands of plasma from an eruption in the sun’s atmosphere were captured in observations with NASA’s STEREO A satellite.

The plasma arms broke out from a sunspot in a 12-hour-long event that occurred from July 21-22, 2013, according to NASA. The solar phenomenon was observed in a wavelength of extreme UV light and condensed into a time-lapse video.

STEREO A and its sister spacecraft STEREO B launched in 2006 as part of NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory. They are just two of the space agency’s satellites tasked with monitoring the sun’s activity. There’s also the long-lived Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO, which launched in 1996 and recently spotted a gigantic hole covering nearly a quarter of the atmosphere over the sun’s north pole.

– See more at: http://www.space.com/22199-sun-plasma-arms-eruption-video.html#sthash.yiNct0bw.dpuf

The sun is currently reaching its 11-year peak in activity, known as the solar maximum. During this period, there are more sunspots causing a boost in solar flares and ejections, though this cycle is shaping up to be the weakest in a century, scientists have said.

Follow SPACE.com on Twitter @Spacedotcom. We’re also on Facebook and Google+.

– See more at: http://www.space.com/22199-sun-plasma-arms-eruption-video.html#sthash.yiNct0bw.dpuf

Former CIA Director Woosley warns of dangerous EMP threats to America (Video)

 

Fmr. CIA Dir. Jim Woolsey warns of existential EMP threat to AmericaFmr. CIA Dir. Jim Woolsey warns of existential EMP threat to America

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President Bill Clinton’s former Director of Central Intelligence, R. James Woolsey, led a panel discussion on Monday on the growing and imminent threat of a natural or nuclear electromagnetic pulse (EMP) by U.S. enemies to the U.S. electrical grid and other critical infrastructures that are largely unprotected.

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The event was sponsored by the newly established EMP Coalition, in coordination of the Center for Security Policy, of which Mr. Woolsey is the Honorary Co-Chair along with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Other participants were Ambassador Henry Cooper and Dr. Peter Vincent Pry.

 

Solar Flare

Photo credit:  

(Nasa.gov)

Ambassador Cooper had led the strategic arms control negotiations with the USSR under President Reagan and served as the Director of the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization under President George H.W. Bush. Presently, he is the Chairman of High Frontier, an organization dedicated to protecting the United States from nuclear attack.

Dr. Pry served on the Congressional EMP Threat Commission, as a professional staff member on the House Armed Services Committee and as an analyst in the CIA. He is now the Executive Director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, a congressional advisory board dedicated to national resiliency in the face of EMP and other threats.

In the little over an hour program, Mr. Woolsey warned that the sun can inflict localized EMP disasters, like the 1989 Hydro-Quebec geomagnetic storm that blacked out eastern Canada, causing billions of dollars in economic losses. He noted that a recent study by insurance industry leader Lloyds of London estimated that if the 1989 Geo-storm struck the east coast of the United States, 20 to 40 million Americans might be blacked out for as long as two years.

A rare geomagnetic super-storm, like the 1859 Carrington Event, would collapse electric grids and life-sustaining critical infrastructures everywhere on Earth, putting at risk the lives of billions.

“Scientists estimate that the world is overdue for another Carrington Event, and the Sun has already entered its solar maximum that shall last through 2013, when a catastrophic Geo-storm is more likely to occur,” Woolsey reported.

Mr. Woolsey also warned that an EMP catastrophe may also be imminent from terrorists and/or rogue states armed with nuclear weapons.

“North Korea already has nuclear missiles, Iran nearly so, and these two are actively collaborating. A single nuclear weapon detonated at high-altitude over this country would collapse the electric grid and other critical infrastructures and endanger the lives of millions,” said Woosley.

Woolsey also emphasized that the hundreds of electric utilities in the United States have thus far not acted to protect themselves from EMP, and cannot be expected to do so voluntarily as national defense and homeland security is a U.S. government responsibility. Woolsey urged that government regulation, by passage of the Secure High-voltage Infrastructure for Electricity from Lethal Damage (SHIELD) Act now before Congress, is necessary to protect the national electric grid.

Ambassador Cooper in the video warned that North Korea may already have the capability to make a catastrophic EMP attack on the United States. On December 2012, Cooper said, North Korea used its so-called Space Launch Vehicle like a Fractional Orbital Bombardment System – a secret weapon invented by the Russians during the Cold War to deliver a stealthy nuclear attack on the United States by orbiting a nuclear weapon over the south polar region, bypassing U.S. Ballistic Missile Early Warning radars (BMEWs) and missile defenses.

Furthermore, Dr. Pry warned that that a disturbing confluence of events suggests an EMP attack might be imminent. Pry stated that thousands of cyber attacks using computer viruses and hacking are probing the defenses of U.S. critical infrastructures, searching for weaknesses.

Pry noted that recently, in April, a sabotage attempt was made against electric grid transformers near San Jose, CA, that damaged five transformers with fire from AK-47 assault rifles.

The act of sabotage attack on the electrical grid was largely not covered by the mainstream media. The vandals also severed fiber optic cables which knocked out some 911 services.

All of the panelists endorsed the SHIELD Act and urged that the Department of Homeland Security develop a new National Planning Scenario focused on EMP, and encouraged other states to follow the example of Maine, not wait for Washington, but pass state initiatives to protect their electric grids from EMP now.

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Solar storms can junk up our technology, new NASA satellite may help thwart them

Martyn Williams, IDG News Service@martyn_williams

    • Jul 26, 2013 7:18 AM
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NASA’s newest telescope is giving scientists their clearest pictures yet of the sun’s atmosphere, and in doing so could help mitigate the potentially devastating effects an extreme solar storm could have on our power and communications networks on Earth.

Launched a month ago, the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, on Thursday sent some of its first images of the sun back to Earth. The pictures should help scientists form a better understanding of the sun’s weather, which is important because its influence on Earth goes well beyond providing sunlight and warmth.

The most violent eruptions can have a much larger impact, including potentially knocking power grids offline and leaving millions without electricity. 

An ever-changing pattern of instability on the sun’s surface causes particles to be thrown outward, sometimes directly toward the Earth. These eruptions can take the form of solar flares, which cause the awe-inspiring northern lights, but can also cause the Earth’s atmosphere to expand and increase the amount of drag on low-Earth-orbit satellites, such as those used for spying and GPS navigation, shortening their lifespan.

The most violent eruptions can have a much larger impact, including potentially knocking power grids offline and leaving millions without electricity. Such an eruption occurred in 1859, frying parts of the international telegraph system, which at the time was the main medium for long-distance communications.

If such an event occurred today, with electricity and Internet communications such a fundamental part of daily life, it’s hard to even fully imagine the potential impact. A recent report from Lloyds of London suggested the damage from a violent eruption could leave 20 million people without power for as long as two years.

All solar weather travels through the lower solar atmosphere, and IRIS contains a powerful spectrograph that will focus on this region of the sun. Thus, scientists hope IRIS will give them a better understanding of these solar events and perhaps help them find a way to predict them.

“These beautiful images from IRIS are going to help us understand how the sun’s lower atmosphere might power a host of events around the sun,” Adrian Daw, mission scientist for IRIS at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a statement. “Any time you look at something in more detail than has ever been seen before, it opens up new doors to understanding. There’s always that potential element of surprise.”

The sun hates your communication infrastructure.

The Earth is prone to the impact of solar weather because the particles hitting Earth from the sun are magnetized.

“When that magnetic field hits the Earth’s magnetic field, we have two magnetic fields interacting and you create electrical currents,” said Karel Schrijver, a senior fellow at Lockheed Martin Space Systems’ advanced technology center in Palo Alto, California. Lockheed Martin built the spectrograph that lies at the heart of IRIS’ observations of the sun.

The electrical currents will run through any conductor on Earth, Schrijver said, and have their greatest effect on high-voltage power lines that sit at the heart of the electric grid. The lines are like inter-city freeways for electricity, carrying power across vast distances at voltages as high as 765,000 volts. Large transformers are used to “step down” the voltage where the lines connect with regional distribution systems, and it is those transformers that are at risk. If the geomagnetic storm is large enough, the induced currents can melt the transformers.

A real threat

One of the strongest major storms in recent memory occurred in March 1989. Over a period of several minutes, the Hydro Quebec power grid in eastern Canada collapsed and 6 million customers lost power. The blackout lasted almost nine hours and caused an estimated C$2 billion in economic losses—and it could have been worse. The effects almost cascaded to regional power grids, which could have blacked out the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions of the U.S.

NASA

Scientists and power grid operators worry about the prospect of something much larger, and such an event would not be without precedent.

Over the final days of August and first days of September 1859, an extreme solar storm occurred that ranks as the strongest ever recorded. It enabled amateur astronomers to make the first-ever observations of solar flares, and such giant storms are now named after one of those astronomers, Richard Carrington.

The Carrington event was so strong that aurorae, usually confined to the far north, could be seen in the night sky as far south as the Caribbean. Electricity still wasn’t widely in use, but the storm shut down parts of the international telegraph network. In some places, telegraph lines were reported to be sparking, and The New York Times reported from Montreal that the Canadian Telegraph Co. took five hours to send a 400-word report because of the bad conditions.

“So completely were the wires under the influence of the Aurora Borealis, it was found utterly impossible to communicate between the telegraph stations, and the line was closed for the night,” the newspaper reported on Aug. 30, 1859.

Historical records suggest Carrington-level events occur every 50 to 250 years, so Earth is now at the 150-year sweetspot for a repeat.

A recent report by Lloyd’s of London predicted that another Carrington-level event is “almost inevitable in the near future” and paints a concerning picture of its potential effects. Should the U.S. be hit head on by such a storm, the report says, 20 million to 40 million people could be left without power for anything between 16 days and two years. The recovery time is so long because high-voltage transformers are such specialty items. Power utilities don’t keep spare ones lying around, and they take up to 16 months to build.

The economic impact of such an event could be as high as $2.6 trillion, the Lloyds report said.

Staving off an economic threat

The power industry isn’t ignoring the threat. An April 2011 workshop between electricity grid operators from the U.S. and Canada resulted in the creation of a space weather alert system for the industry, and plans for coordination should a major geomagnetic storm be detected. Grid operators would have between 15 hours and two days to prepare for the storm by increasing reserves, reducing power transfers and lightening the load on susceptible equipment.

But any reduction in the availability of power could itself have an economic impact, so it’s a situation to be avoided unless the likelihood of serious damage to the power grid is high.

Learning more about the sun’s weather can only help scientists to provide warnings for such events.

“What we don’t know is how it works, what in detail it will damage, or how likely it is that that damage will spread,” Schrijver said. “And the difficulty with it is that these things happen only rarely. Once a century is when a really big solar event occurs, and our technological infrastructure has changed so much, we’ve never been exposed to it.”

Follow @TechHive on Twitter today.

Updated at 12:20 p.m. PT with a video report from IDG News Service.

 

 

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