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The upper atmosphere of the Sun is dominated by plasma filled magnetic loops (coronal loops) whose temperature and pressure vary over a wide range. The appearance of coronal loops follows the emergence of magnetic flux, which is generated by dynamo processes inside the Sun. Emerging flux regions (EFRs) appear when magnetic flux bundles emerge from the solar interior through the photosphere and into the upper atmosphere (chromosphere and the corona). The characteristic feature of EFR is the -shaped loops (created by the magnetic buoyancy/Parker instability), they appear as developing bipolar sunspots in magnetograms, and as arch filament systems in . EFRs interact with pre-existing magnetic fields in the corona and produce small flares (plasma heating) and collimated plasma jets. The GIFs above show multiple energetic jets in three different wavelengths. The light has been colorized in red, green and blue, corresponding to three coronal temperature regimes ranging from ~0.8Mk to 2MK. 

Image Credit: SDO/U. Aberystwyth


Very strange things happen to your body if you spend a year in space

NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly returns to Earth Tuesday night after spending almost a year in space.

But his 340 days aboard the International Space Station (ISS) haven’t been all fun and games.

Our bodies evolved on Earth, so they’re not built for weightlessness — which is exactly why NASA plans to use Kelly to study the long-term effects of spaceflight the human body.

Coronal rain

On July 19, 2012, an eruption occurred on the sun that produced a moderately powerful solar flare and a dazzling magnetic display known as coronal rain. Hot plasma in the corona cooled and condensed along strong magnetic fields in the region. Magnetic fields, are invisible, but the charged plasma is forced to move along the lines, showing up brightly in the extreme ultraviolet wavelength of 304 Angstroms, and outlining the fields as it slowly falls back to the solar surface.

Credit: NASA,SDO

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This is the first high-resolution footage of a spectacular phenomenon called a magnetic flux rope that occurs on the sun’s surface. The S-shaped rope’s twisting, writhing structure is a surface instability made of current-carrying magnetic fields that explode out of the surrounding solar atmosphere. It emerged and evolved from the second of three layers in our star’s atmosphere called the chromosphere. 

Researchers recorded the event in August 2013 using the recently built New Solar Telescope at Big Bear Solar Observatory east of Los Angeles. Imagery and analysis of the event appeared yesterday in the journal Nature Communications.

“These twisting magnetic loops have been much studied in the Sun’s corona, or outer layer, but these are the first high-resolution images of their origination in the chromosphere below it,” said Haimin Wang, the lead author of the study and a physics professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, which runs the observatory. "For the first time, we can see their twisting motion in great detail and watch how it evolves." 

See more images and learn more below.

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Walter Russell posited that the universe was founded on a unifying principle of rhythmic balanced interchange. This physical theory was laid out primarily in his books The Secret of Light (1947) and The Message of the Divine Iliad.

Russell asserted that this was mainly due to a difference in the assumptions made about the existence of mind and matter; Russell assumes the existence of mind as cause while he believes that scientists in general assume the existence of mind as effect.

Russell asserted that neither light nor heat flows from one point of space to another. He stated the same of electricity and magnetism; that neither is a flow varying as the inverse of the square of the distance according to Coulomb’s Law, but a reproduction as the inverse of the cube of space. “Light does not travel. The light and heat which appear to come from the star or the sun has never left the star or the sun. That which man sees as light and feels as heat is the reproduced counterpart of the light and of the heat which is its cause.



The Secret of Life :

Powerful magnetic forces above an active region on the Sun twisted and pulled at a blob of plasma until it lost its connections and blew out into space (Mar. 26, 2014). The resultant swirling presented its own kind of graceful, almost ballet-like bends and sweeps. To offer some kind of size perspective that blob, before it broke away, was easily larger than several Earths. The event was observed in extreme ultraviolet light over about 5.5 hours. 

Credit: Solar Dynamics Observatory/NASA

Exploring the Invisible: Magnetic Reconnection

People always say that space is a vacuum. That’s true – space is about a thousand times emptier than even the best laboratory vacuums on Earth. Even so, space contains lots of stuff we can’t see. We study this invisible space stuff because we need to understand it to safely send technology and astronauts into space.

The stuff that fills space is mostly plasma, which is gas where particles have separated into positive ions and negative electrons, creating a sea of electrically-charged particles. This plasma also contains something else – magnetic fields.

The particles in space can reach very high speeds, creating radiation. One of the main engines that drives that acceleration to high speeds is called magnetic reconnection. But what is magnetic reconnection?

Magnetic reconnection happens when two oppositely-aligned magnetic fields pinch together and explosively realign. As the lines snap into their new configuration – as in the animation below – the sudden change sends electrons and ions flying at incredible speeds.

Magnetic reconnection releases energy. We can’t see the energy itself, but we can see the results: It can set off solar explosions – such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections – or disturbances near Earth that cause auroras.

In March 2015, we launched the four Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, spacecraft on a mission to study magnetic reconnection. Magnetic reconnection only happens in a vacuum with ionized gas. These conditions are vanishingly rare on Earth, so we went to space to study this explosive process.

Because MMS has four separate – but essentially identical – spacecraft, it can watch magnetic reconnection in three dimensions.

The below animation shows what MMS sees – the magnetic fields are magenta, positive ions are purple, and electrons are yellow. The arrows show which the direction the fields and particles are moving.

Like how a research plane flies through a hurricane, MMS flew directly through a magnetic reconnection event in October 2015.

In the data visualization below, you can see the magnetic reconnection happening as the yellow arrows (which represent electrons) explode in all directions. You’ll notice that the magnetic field (represented by magenta arrows) changes direction after the magnetic reconnection, showing that the magnetic field has reconfigured.

Magnetic reconnection transfers energy into Earth’s atmosphere – but it’s not inherently dangerous. Sometimes, the changes in Earth’s magnetic field caused by magnetic reconnection can create electric currents that put a strain on power systems. However, the energy released is more often channeled into auroras, the multicolored lights that most often appear near the North and South Poles.

As the MMS mission continues the four spacecraft can be moved closer together or farther apart, letting us measure magnetic reconnection on all different scales. Each set of observations contributes to explaining different aspects of this invisible phenomenon of magnetic reconnection. Together, the information will help scientists better map out our space environment — crucial information as we journey ever farther beyond our home planet.

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Coronal loop

The corona is the outer part of the solar atmosphere. Its name derives from the fact that, since it is extremely tenuous with respect to the lower atmosphere, it is visible in the optical band only during the solar eclipses as a faint crown (corona in Latin) around the black moon disk. When inspected through spectroscopy the corona reveals unexpected emission lines, which were first identified as due to a new element (coronium) but which were later ascertained to be due to high excitation states of iron. It became then clear that the corona is made of very high temperature gas, hotter than 1 MK(megakelvin). Almost all the gas is fully ionized there and thus interacts effectively with the ambient magnetic field. It is for this reason that the corona appears so inhomogeneous when observed in the X-ray band, in which plasma at million degrees emits most of its radiation. In particular, the plasma is confined inside magnetic flux tubes which are anchored on both sides to the underlying photosphere. When the confined plasma is heated more than the surroundings, its pressure and density increase. Since the tenuous plasma is optically thin, the intensity of its radiation is proportional to the square of the density, and the tube becomes much brighter than the surrounding ones and looks like a bright closed arch: a coronal loop.

Credit: Fabio Reale

What happened to Mars?

It’s likely that billions of years ago, Mars had entire oceans on its surface. Conditions were good for life to develop and at the time, it was even a more habitable planet than Earth.

So what happened?

Recently NASA revealed that they’d discovered liquid water still runs in small amounts on Mars, but its no more than an implication of what was and could’ve been. Today Mars is largely a barren planet which seems to be more tomb than home.

NASA’s MAVEN mission, luckily, was able to figure it out.

It turns out, Mars’ atmosphere (what little’s left) is being torn apart by something known as the “solar wind”. This is a stream of charged particles that explode out of the Sun into space. Little by little, these particles are able to rip off bits of Mars’ atmosphere. The rate this happens, as observed by MAVEN, matches up with the general era in which we think Mars’ atmosphere still flourished.

When a planet doesn’t have an atmosphere, the pressure and heat needed to keep water liquid is mostly gone. Some of the water evaporated into the remaining atmosphere (most of which was then stripped away into space) and some froze.

So why did this happen to Mars? Could it happen to Earth?

Yes and no. The reason why it happened to Mars is because it’s such a small planet. Smaller things cool down quicker. I challenge you to go get a large coffee and a small coffee and wait to see which one cools faster.

You see, Mars and Earth both have iron cores. When the planets formed out of molten conglomerates in space, these iron cores were hot, even after the outer crust of the planets cooled against the vacuum of space.

A rapidly spinning, molten iron core (for those physicists among us) already know: this is all you need to generate a magnetic field!

The Sun’s solar wind, as it happens, is subject to magnetism since it’s made up of charged particles. All you need, therefore, to protect yourself from the solar wind, is a magnetic field. The charged particles will be stopped by the field, travel up and down to the planet’s magnetic poles where they’ll discharge in a flash of light known as a borealis:

So there you have it: the Northern Lights killed Mars.

… well not really but it’s all connected in a wonderful, interesting way.

Earth is safe from such a fate so long as we can protect our atmosphere from the solar wind, and even then the stripping away of the atmosphere wouldn’t happen overnight.

(Image credit: NASA)