Yesterday NASA released additional images taken by their STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory) spacecraft. The images are not typical photographs. NASA scientists are focusing their efforts on the phenomenon known as a coronal mass ejection (CME). It turns out that closeups of the CME itself are shaped something like a croissant. This isn’t a big surprise, as CMEs are like bubbles of charged particles that were confined by the Sun’s magnetic field, but are so energetic that they achieve escape velocity and spew out into interplanetary space. CMEs can be dangerous for spacecraft, especially manned spacecraft. Read more about CME and the STEREO spacecraft here. Additional images can be found here.
Today, solar physicists released a pair of articles dealing with studies of our nearest star, the Sun. These articles examine features of the Sun that occur in the Sun’s chromosphere and corona. In particular, there are the coronal mass ejections, which can lead, if pointed in Earth’s direction, to some dire consequences. Take a look at the articles online at http://xxx.lanl.gov/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/0901/0901.2814v1.pdf and http://xxx.lanl.gov/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/0901/0901.2817v1.pdf If you think the details may bore you, you will at least enjoy the animations generated from the science, available online at http://download.hao.ucar.edu/pub/mscott/Hinode2/SUMER/ and http://download.hao.ucar.edu/pub/mscott/Hinode2/DIMMING/