Timmy Telescope Solar Astronomy Outreach

Aurora [See also Solar Wind]

3/13/17: New research on Northern Lights will improve satellite navigation accuracy. Researchers at the University of Bath have gained new insights into the mechanisms of the Northern Lights, providing an opportunity to develop better satellite technology that can negate outages caused by this natural phenomenon. The presence of plasma turbulence within the Northern Lights was traditionally deemed responsible for causing GNSS inaccuracies. However, this latest research found that turbulence does not exist, suggesting new, unknown mechanisms are actually responsible for outages on GNSS signals.

6/22/16: Acoustics researcher finds explanation for auroral sounds. In 2012, a research group headed by Aalto University Professor Unto K. Laine proved that the source of sounds associated with the Northern Lights is located close to the ground at an altitude of approximately 70 metres. Now, by combining his measurements with the temperature profiles measured by the Finnish Meteorological Institute, Professor Laine has found an explanation for the mechanism that creates the sound.

12/21/15: Auroral mystery solved: Sudden bursts caused by swirling charged particles. A supercomputer model revealed that the rotation of plasma creates electrical currents in the near-Earth space, ultimately triggering auroral breakups. This overthrows existing theories about how auroral breakups occur.

Irradiance

7/12/15: Why NASA Keeps a Close Eye on the Sun's Irradiance by Adam Voiland, NASA's Earth Science News Team. Updated by Holly Zell.
For more than two centuries, scientists have wondered how much heat and light the sun expels, and whether this energy varies enough to change Earth's climate. In the absence of a good method for measuring the sun's output, the scientific conversation was often heavy with speculation.

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Magnetic Fields

6/22/17: Scientists Uncover Origins of the Sun’s Swirling Spicules. At any given moment, as many as 10 million wild jets of solar material burst from the sun’s surface. They erupt as fast as 60 miles per second, and can reach lengths of 6,000 miles before collapsing. These are spicules, and despite their grass-like abundance, scientists didn’t understand how they form. Now, for the first time, a computer simulation — so detailed it took a full year to run — shows how spicules form, helping scientists understand how spicules can break free of the sun’s surface and surge upward so quickly. [Magnetic Fields]

3/31/17: PPPL and Max Planck physicists reveal experimental verification of a key source of fast reconnection of magnetic fields. Magnetic reconnection, a universal process that triggers solar flares and northern lights and can disrupt cell phone service and fusion experiments, occurs much faster than theory says that it should. Now researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) and Germany’s Max Planck Institute of Plasma Physics have discovered a source of the speed-up in a common form of reconnection. Their findings could lead to more accurate predictions of damaging space weather and improved fusion experiments.

11/6/16: PPPL physicists find clue to formation of magnetic fields around stars and galaxies. An enduring astronomical mystery is how stars and galaxies acquire their magnetic fields. Physicists have now found a clue to the answer in the collective behavior of small magnetic disturbances.

5/9/16: Research result: The Sun’s magnetic field during the grand minimum is in fact at its maximum. During a time period of the Maunder Minimum type the magnetic field may hide at the bottom of the convection zone. About 80 solar cycles seen from the surface, i.e. more than 1,000 years in solar time, modelled by means of a computer simulation. At 20-50 years in simulation time, a simulated grand minimum occurs, which in actual fact is the maximum of magnetic energy. Credit:Image courtesy of Aalto University.

1/29/16: Understanding the magnetic sun. NASA Goddard solar scientist Holly Gilbert explains a computer model of the sun’s magnetic field. Grasping what drives that magnetic system is crucial for understanding the nature of space throughout the solar system: The sun's invisible magnetic field is responsible for everything from the solar explosions that cause space weather on Earth – such as auroras – to the interplanetary magnetic field and radiation through which our spacecraft journeying around the solar system must travel. credit: NASA Goddard.

11/6/15: PPPL physicists find clue to formation of magnetic fields around stars and galaxies. An enduring astronomical mystery is how stars and galaxies acquire their magnetic fields. Physicists Jonathan Squire and Amitava Bhattacharjee at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. (PPPL) have found a clue to the answer in the collective behavior of small magnetic disturbances.

10/27/15:Wave-particle interaction in atmosphere. A Dartmouth-led study sheds light on the impact of plasma waves on high-energy electrons streaking into Earth's magnetic field from space.

10/22/15: Astronomers Peer Inside Stars, Finding Giant Magnets. Astronomers have for the first time probed the magnetic fields in the mysterious inner regions of stars. Using a technique called asteroseismology, which uses sound waves generated by turbulence on the surface of stars to determine their inner properties, the scientists found that the fusion-powered cores of red giants, stars that are evolved versions of our sun, are strongly magnetized. The findings will help astronomers better understand the evolution of stars. Supplementary material.

10/14/15: Large solar storms ‘dodge’ detection systems on Earth. According to observations from the Tihany Magnetic Observatory in Hungary, the indices used by scientists to assess the Sun's geomagnetic perturbations to the Earth are unable to detect some of these events which could put both power supply and communication networks at risk. The Tihany Magnetic Observatory registered a solar storm similar to the largest one ever recorded while other observatories were completely unaware of the event. Image credit: NASA

7/14/15: Scientists’ discovery of zebra stripes in space resolves a half-century mystery. The Earth’s magnetosphere is home to the plasma waves being studied by Yuri Shprits and colleagues.

5/11/15: UNH scientists show 'breaking waves' perturb Earth's magnetic field The underlying physical process that creates striking 'breaking wave' cloud patterns in our atmosphere also frequently opens the gates to high-energy solar wind plasma that perturbs Earth's magnetic field, or magnetosphere, which protects us from cosmic radiation. The discovery was made by space physicists.

2/19/15: The origin of the magnetic field covering the Sun has been discovered
High resolution observations using the HINODE satellite reveal the existence of small magnetic elements inside solar supergranules.

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Nanoflares

11/30/16: Mystery of Coronal Heating. Observations by NASA's IRIS spacecraft suggest that "heat bombs" are going off in the sun's outer atmosphere, helping to explain why the solar corona is so mysteriously hot.

5/1/15: Strong Evidence for Coronal Heating by Nanoflares
New evidence supports a theory that the Sun's corona is heated by tiny explosions called nanoflares.
more about Nanoflares from the Triennial Earth-Sun Summit (TESS), 26-30 April 2015.

8/2/14 NASA EUNIS Sees Evidence for Nanoflare Coronal Heating
Scientists have recently gathered some of the strongest evidence to date to explain what makes the sun's outer atmosphere so much hotter than its surface. The new observations show temperatures in the atmosphere so hot that only one current theory explains them: something called nanoflares - a constant peppering of impulsive bursts of heating, none of which can be individually detected -- provide the mysterious extra heat. Watch video with Jeff Brosius.

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Plasma

11/11/15: Discovery of a new confinement state for plasma. Findings of Japanese-American joint research on high-temperature and high-density plasma confinement by magnetic fields.

11/10/15: Recreating a heavenly chorus of plasma waves on Earth. Physicists at Large Plasma Device (LAPD) at the University of California, Los Angeles use a novel plasma experiment to study elusive chirping radio signals from space.

10/13/15:Blast waves in the Sun’s atmosphere. A unique observational geometry of two solar probes uncovers a new solar phenomenon: large-scale waves accompanied by particles emissions rich in helium-3.

8/3/15: Scientists propose an explanation for puzzling electron heat loss in fusion plasmas by Raphael Rosen. The role of Alfven waves in plasma heat loss.

7/14/15: Scientists’ discovery of zebra stripes in space resolves a half-century mystery. The Earth’s magnetosphere is home to the plasma waves being studied by Yuri Shprits and colleagues.

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Parker Solar Probe

6/21/17: Parker Solar Probe. As NASA’s Parker Solar Probe spacecraft begins its first historic encounter with the sun’s corona in late 2018—flying closer to our star than any other mission in history—a revolutionary cooling system will keep its solar arrays at peak performance, even in extremely hostile conditions. [Parker Solar Probe]

Solar Cycles

6/27/17: Solar Minimum is Coming. Every 11 years or so, sunspots fade away, bringing a period of relative calm, known asthe Solar Minimum. [NASA Sciencecast] [Solar Cycles]

7/9/15: Irregular heartbeat of the Sun driven by double dynamo
A new model of the Sun’s solar cycle is producing unprecedentedly accurate predictions of irregularities within the Sun’s 11-year heartbeat.

9/1/2014 New Clues to Determining the Solar Cycle
Scienctists have found new markers in the sun's atmosphere that may require adjusting our theories of the solar cycle.

ScienceCasts: Solar Mini-Max A new video examines the curious Solar Max of 2014.

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Solar Flares, Erupting Filaments, and CMEs [See also Space Weather]

5/5/17: NASA-Funded Sounding Rocket Will Take 1,500 Images of Sun in 5 Minutes. On May 5, 2017, scientists launched a sounding rocket 200 miles up into the atmosphere, where in just five minutes, it will take 1,500 images of the sun. The NASA-funded RAISE mission is designed to scrutinize split-second changes occurring near the sun’s active regions — areas of intense, complex magnetic activity that can give rise to solar flares, which eject energy and solar material out into space.

4/10/17: Solar Storms Can Drain Electrical Charge Above Earth. New research on solar storms finds that they not only can cause regions of excessive electrical charge in the upper atmosphere above Earth's poles, they also can do the exact opposite: cause regions that are nearly depleted of electrically charged particles. The finding adds to our knowledge of how solar storms affect Earth and could possibly lead to improved radio communication and navigation systems for the Arctic.

3/28/17: Igniting a Solar Flare in the Corona with Lower-Atmosphere Kindling. Recent images have revealed the emergence of small-scale magnetic fields in the lower reaches of the corona researchers say may be linked to the onset of a main flare.

2/11/17: NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory: Year 7 Ultra HD (4k). The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) has now captured nearly seven years worth of ultra-high resolution solar footage. This time lapse shows that full run from two of SDO's instruments. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Scott Wiessinger.

2/7/17: What happened to the sun over 7,000 years ago? Analysis of tree rings reveals highly abnormal solar activity in the mid-Holocene. By analyzing the level of a carbon isotope in tree rings from a specimen of an ancient bristlecone pine, researchers have revealed that the sun exhibited a unique pattern of activity in 5480 BC. By comparing this event with other similar but more recent phenomena, they reported that this event may have involved a change in the sun's magnetic activity, or a number of successive solar burst emissions.

2/6/17: Fermi Sees Gamma Rays from Far Side Solar Flares. NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has observed high-energy light from solar eruptions located on the far side of the sun. This apparent paradox is providing solar scientists with a unique tool for exploring how charged particles are accelerated to nearly the speed of light and move across the sun during solar flares.

2/3/17: NOAA's GOES-16 EXIS Instrument Observes Solar Flares. On January 21, 2017, the GOES-16 Extreme Ultraviolet and X-Ray Irradiance Sensors (EXIS) observed solar flares. EXIS measures solar flares at several wavelengths and improves upon current capabilities by capturing larger flares, measuring the location of the flares on the sun, and measuring flares in more wavelengths.

1/6/17: NASA Study Finds Solar Storms Could Spark Soils at Moon's Poles. Powerful solar storms can charge up the soil in frigid, permanently shadowed regions near the lunar poles, and may possibly produce "sparks" that could vaporize and melt the soil, perhaps as much as meteoroid impacts, according to NASA-funded research.

8/24/16: Solar activity has a direct impact on Earth’s cloud cover. Solar variations affect the abundance of clouds in our atmosphere, a new study lead by DTU Space suggests. Large eruptions on the surface of the Sun can temporarily shield Earth from so-called cosmic rays which now appear to affect cloud formation.

8/11/16: How Sun-Watchers Stopped World War III in 1967. As an intense solar storm interrupted radio and radar communications, scientists and military leaders scrambled to decipher the cause.

4/19/16: From bright flare ribbons to coronal rain: High-resolution images capture a solar flare as it unfolds. Scientists at NJIT's Big Bear Solar Observatory have captured unprecedented images of a recent solar flare, including bright flare ribbons seen crossing a sunspot followed by 'coronal rain,' plasma that condenses in the cooling phase shortly after the flare, showering the visible surface of the sun where it lands in brilliant explosions. Credit: NJIT.

4/19/16: Seeing Double: NASA Missions Measure Solar Flare from 2 Spots in Space. During a December 2013 solar flare, three NASA missions observed a current sheet form – a strong clue for explaining what initiates the flares. This animation shows four views of the flare from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, NASA’s Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory, and JAXA/NASA’s Hinode, allowing scientists to make unprecedented measurements of its characteristics. The current sheet is a long, thin structure, especially visible in the views on the left. Those two animations depict light emitted by material with higher temperatures, so they better show the extremely hot current sheet.Credits: NASA/JAXA/SDO/STEREO/Hinode (courtesy Zhu, et al.)

4/08/16: Solar Storm Researchers Prepare for the 'Big One' with New Urgency. At a recent conference in Washington, D.C. that drew space weather specialists from academia, the federal government, the military and private industry, Louis Lanzerotti, distinguished research professor at NJIT's Center for Solar-Terrestrial Research, summed up the implications of a massive, well-timed solar storm for today's technology-based, hyper-connected global society.

12/23/15: Discovering a previously unknown mechanism that halts solar eruptions before they blast into space. Physicists determine the difference between false starts and true eruptions by studying the Sun’s magnetic field. This solar flare occurred at the peak of the solar cycle in October 2014 with no observed eruptions. PPPL researchers say this is a promising candidate for studying the effect of guide magnetic fields. Image credit: NASA

12/17/15: Magnetic reconnection: Magnetic explosions in Northern lights and solar flares. Just under four months into the science phase of the mission, NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, is delivering promising early results on a process called magnetic reconnection -- a kind of magnetic explosion that's related to everything from the northern lights to solar flares.

12/3/15: VLA Yields New Insights on Solar Flares. Astronomers have made a significant step toward confirming a proposed explanation for how solar flares accelerate charged particles to speeds nearly that of light. This important advance was made possible by the new capabilities of the National Science Foundation's Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope. Image courtesy SDO/AIA data is from NASA. VLA image courtesy of NRAO/AUI. Image prepared by Chen, Jibben, and Samra. more

4/28/15: Erupting Filament

9/22/14: NASA - The Difference Between Flares and CMEs There are many kinds of eruptions on the Sun. Solar flares and coronal mass ejections both involve gigantic explosions of energy, but are otherwise quite different. How do you tell the difference between a flare and a CME in NASA images? Flares look like bright flashes of light on the sun. Coronal mass ejections look like clouds zooming out into space. Watch video for more information. Image Credit: NASA/SDO/ESA/SOHO/Nune.

3/12/15:Sun Emits Significant Solar Flare

Cassini Type-III Radio Bursts. Listen to type III solar radio bursts produced by the very intense solar flares on October 28, 2003, and November 4, 2003.

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Solar Flux Ropes

4/28/15: Solar Flux Ropes
Scientists have captured the first high-resolution images of the flaring magnetic structures known as solar flux ropes at their point of origin in the sun's chromosphere.

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Solar Observation

1/17/17:ALMA Starts Observing the Sun New images taken with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile have revealed otherwise invisible details of our Sun, including a new view of the dark, contorted centre of a sunspot that is nearly twice the diameter of the Earth. The images are the first ever made of the Sun with a facility where European Southern Observatory is a partner. The results are an important expansion of the range of observations that can be used to probe the physics of our nearest star.

9/14/16:Hinode: 10th Anniversary of Its Launch. The solar observing satellite “Hinode” will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its launch on 23 September (Japan standard time). This 3-minutes movie presents the solar atmosphere fulfilled with active phenomena much more than ever imagined, captured with the Hinode telescopes.

Solar Wind [See also Space Weather]

4/24/17: NASA’s Cassini, Voyager Missions Suggest New Picture of Sun’s Interaction with Galaxy. New data from NASA’s Cassini mission, combined with measurements from the two Voyager spacecraft and NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer, or IBEX, suggests that our sun and planets are surrounded by a giant, rounded system of magnetic field from the sun — calling into question the alternate view of the solar magnetic fields trailing behind the sun in the shape of a long comet tail.

11/14/16: NASA finds unusual origins of high-energy electrons. High above the surface, Earth's magnetic field constantly deflects incoming supersonic particles from the sun. These particles are disturbed in regions just outside of Earth's magnetic field - and some are reflected into a turbulent region called the foreshock. New observations from NASA's THEMIS mission show that this turbulent region can accelerate electrons up to speeds approaching the speed of light.

10/10/16: Researchers discover effect of rare solar wind on Earth's radiation belts. Researchers from the University of New Hampshire have captured unique measurements of the Van Allen radiation belts, which circle the Earth, during an extremely rare solar wind event. The findings, which have never been reported before, may be helpful in protecting orbiting telecommunication and navigational satellites, and possibly future astronauts, by helping to more accurately predict space conditions near Earth, as well as around more remote planets. Read full study

10/10/16: Researchers discover effect of rare solar wind on Earth's radiation belts. Researchers from the University of New Hampshire have captured unique measurements of the Van Allen radiation belts, which circle the Earth, during an extremely rare solar wind event. The findings, which have never been reported before, may be helpful in protecting orbiting telecommunication and navigational satellites, and possibly future astronauts, by helping to more accurately predict space conditions near Earth, as well as around more remote planets. Read full study.

9/1/16: Images From Sun’s Edge Reveal Origins of Solar Wind. Ever since the 1950s discovery of the solar wind -- the constant flow of charged particles from the Sun -- there's been a stark disconnect between this outpouring and the sun itself. The details of the transition from defined rays in the corona, the sun's upper atmosphere, to the solar wind have been, until now, a mystery.

8/15/16: Van Allen probes catch rare glimpse of supercharged radiation belt.On March 17, 2015, an interplanetary shock – a shockwave created by the driving force of a coronal mass ejection, or CME, from the sun – struck the outermost radiation belt, triggering the greatest geomagnetic storm of the preceding decade. NASA's Van Allen Probes were there to watch it.
Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center; Genna Duberstein, producer

4/5/16: Multitasking New Horizons observed solar wind changes on journey to Pluto. The Solar Wind Around Pluto (SWAP) instrument, operated by Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), collected three years' worth of measurements before the July 15 Pluto flyby. Data showed that the tumultuous flow of solar particles, which in the inner solar system is structured by the interaction of fast and slow flows as well as eruptive events on the Sun, becomes more uniform by the time the solar wind has traversed the 3 billion miles to Pluto's orbit.

10/13/15: SwRI-led study finds that a comet’s tail may shed light on solar wind heating. Individual clumps of tail material bob and twist in the turbulent solar wind, in this highly processed image of Comet Encke from the HI-1 instrument on board NASA's STEREO-A spacecraft. The circular dots mark individual clumps that were tracked by the SwRI/University of Delaware team to measure the flow of the solar wind. Image courtesy of NASA//SwRI.

7/23/15: Dartmouth-NASA collaboration reveals new X-ray actions. Potentially destructive high-energy electrons streak into Earth's atmosphere from space, not as Shakespeare's "gentle rain from heaven," but at velocities approaching the speed of light.

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Space Weather

Chronology of effects Chronology of effects. Many different man-made systems are affected during magnetic disturbances from 1947-2004. Here we have onlyNatural Resources Canada has attempted to document the effects of geomagnetic disturbances on electrical systems at the Earth's surface, such as power systems, pipelines, and communication cables.

5/8/17: Space Weather Model Simulates Solar Storms From Nowhere. An international team of scientists has developed a model that simulates the evolution of stealthy solar storms. The scientists relied upon NASA missions STEREO and SOHO for this work, fine-tuning their model until the simulations matched the space-based observations. Their work shows how a slow, quiet process can unexpectedly create a twisted mass of magnetic fields on the sun, which then pinches off and speeds out into space — all without any advance warning. [Space Weather]

4/19/17: Living with a Star: NASA and Partners Survey Space Weather Science. Last year, NASA scientists worked with scientists and engineers from research institutions and industry during a pair of intensive week-long workshops in order to assess the state of science surrounding this type of space weather. Download Geomagnetically Induced Currents infographic [6MB].

3/30/17: Rossby waves, large movement patterns in the atmosphere, have been found on the sun, and their discovery could help make better long-term space weather predictions. Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Genna Duberstein, Producer. Read new study led by a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Read the full study: The detection of Rossby-like waves on the Sun.

3/2/17: NASA Scientists Demonstrate Technique to Improve Particle Warnings that Protect Astronauts. Scientists from NASA and the National Center for Atmospheric Research have shown that data from a ground-based instrument called K-Cor can give scientists early warning of a certain type of incoming space weather that can impact astronauts.

1/29/17: A Space Weather Report: Preparing Space Explorers for Bad Weather throughout the Solar System. C. Alex Young discusses the challenges of dealing with the harshness of space and making sure travelers can safely reach their destination as they reach for the planets and beyond. [75 min. webcast]

1/26/17: New Space Weather Model Helps Simulate Magnetic Structure of Solar Storms. The magnetic field of solar eruptions such as CMEs are difficult to predict and can interact with Earth’s magnetic fields, causing space weather effects. Built to simulate solar storms, a new tool called EEGGL-Eruptive Event Generator (Gibson and Low)- helps NASA study how a CME might travel through space to Earth and what magnetic configuration it will have when it arrives.

11/29/16: Space Weather & Critical Infrastructures: Findings and Outlook. An event co-organised by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, the UK Met Office, with the support of the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center 29-30 November, 2016, Ispra, Italy Elisabeth Krausmann, Emmelie Andersson, Mark Gibbs, William Murtagh.

10/13/16: Executive Order -- Coordinating Efforts to Prepare the Nation for Space Weather Events

3/2/17: NASA Scientists Demonstrate Technique to Improve Particle Warnings that Protect Astronauts. Scientists from NASA and the National Center for Atmospheric Research have shown that data from a ground-based instrument called K-Cor can give scientists early warning of a certain type of incoming space weather that can impact astronauts.

2/11/17: NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory: Year 7 Ultra HD (4k). The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) has now captured nearly seven years worth of ultra-high resolution solar footage. This time lapse shows that full run from two of SDO's instruments. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Scott Wiessinger.

1/4/17: TIMED Marches On: Watching the Upper Atmosphere for 15 Years and Counting. NASA’s TIMED mission — short for Thermosphere, Ionosphere, Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics — yielded a batch of new discoveries to end its 15th year in orbit. From a more precise categorization of the upper atmosphere’s response to solar storms, to pinpointing the signatures of a fundamental behavior of carbon dioxide, TIMED’s unique position and instruments, along with its decade-plus data record, continue to give scientists an unparalleled look at Earth’s upper atmosphere, our interface to space.

01/2017: Quantifying the daily economic impact of extreme space weather due to failure in electricity transmission infrastructure and other related articles. Extreme space weather due to coronal mass ejections has the potential to cause considerable disruption to the global economy by damaging the transformers required to operate electricity transmission infrastructure. However, expert opinion is split between the potential outcome being one of a temporary regional blackout and of a more prolonged event.

8/24/16: Solar activity has a direct impact on Earth’s cloud cover. Solar variations affect the abundance of clouds in our atmosphere, a new study lead by DTU Space suggests. Large eruptions on the surface of the Sun can temporarily shield Earth from so-called cosmic rays which now appear to affect cloud formation.

8/15/16: Van Allen probes catch rare glimpse of supercharged radiation belt. On March 17, 2015, an interplanetary shock – a shockwave created by the driving force of a coronal mass ejection, or CME, from the sun – struck the outermost radiation belt, triggering the greatest geomagnetic storm of the preceding decade. NASA's Van Allen Probes were there to watch it.

10/29/15: Enhancing National Preparedness to Space-Weather Events. White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) announced new materials and commitments to enhance national space-weather preparedness.

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Spectroscopy

9/23/16: NASA-Funded Sounding Rocket Solves One Cosmic Mystery, Reveals Another. In the last century, humans realized that space is filled with types of light we can’t see – from infrared signals released by hot stars and galaxies, to the cosmic microwave background that comes from every corner of the universe. Some of this invisible light that fills space takes the form of X-rays, the source of which has been hotly contended over the past few decades.

9/19/16: The Dynamic Duo: RAVE complements Gaia. The new data release of the RAdial Velocity Experiment (RAVE) is the fifth spectroscopic release of a survey of stars in the southern celestial hemisphere. It contains radial velocities for 520,781 spectra of 457,588 unique stars that were observed over ten years.

2/14/17: NASA and MIT Collaborate to Develop Space-Based Quantum-Dot Spectrometer. A NASA technologist has teamed with the inventor of a new nanotechnology that could transform the way space scientists build spectrometers, the all-important device used by virtually all scientific disciplines to measure the properties of light emanating from astronomical objects, including Earth itself.

9/23/16: NASA-Funded Sounding Rocket Solves One Cosmic Mystery, Reveals Another. In the last century, humans realized that space is filled with types of light we can’t see – from infrared signals released by hot stars and galaxies, to the cosmic microwave background that comes from every corner of the universe. Some of this invisible light that fills space takes the form of X-rays, the source of which has been hotly contended over the past few decades.

9/19/16: The Dynamic Duo: RAVE complements Gaia. The new data release of the RAdial Velocity Experiment (RAVE) is the fifth spectroscopic release of a survey of stars in the southern celestial hemisphere. It contains radial velocities for 520,781 spectra of 457,588 unique stars that were observed over ten years.

3/30/16:Spectral Types For Spring Nights by Bob King. Hidden within the subtle hues of the stars are the keys to their temperatures and compositions. Get acquainted with the classic OBAFGKM spectral sequence through real stars you can see on a spring night.

11/4/15: Seeing Spots on a Red Giant Star. Astronomers have produced an exquisite movie of another star’s rotating surface. The image of XX Trianguli, as captured by Doppler imaging. The size of the Sun is shown for reference - this red giant has 10 times the Sun's diameter. Leibniz Institüte für Astrophysik Potsdam. Full article

11/1/15: NASA 4K video: Thermonuclear Art – The Sun In Ultra-HD. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) keeps an eye on our nearest star 24/7, capturing images of the Sun in 10 different wavelengths. Each wavelength helps highlight a different temperature of solar material. Scientists study these images to better understand the complex electromagnetic system causing the constant movement on The Sun. Image credit: NASA. Video by Universe Odyssey.

8/4/15: New Benchmarks for Molecular Spectroscopy Researchers in Beijing have obtained new energy readings for cyanoacetylene molecules, with significant implications for understanding the electronic structure of organic molecules. High resolution photoelectron spectrum of HCCCN. Credit-YMO/Tsinghua.

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Sunspots

3/22/17: NASA’s SDO Sees a Stretch of Spotless Sun. For 15 days starting on March 7, 2017, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, returned visible light images of a yolk-like spotless sun. This is the longest stretch of spotlessness since the last solar minimum in April 2010, indicating the solar cycle is marching on toward the next minimum, which scientists predict will occur between 2019—2020.

7/13/16: Slow appearance of sunspots challenges theory.
Solar active regions consist of strongly magnetic sunspots and surrounding regions of more diffuse magnetic field. These regions are the origin of solar activity which controls space weather and causes beautiful phenomena such as aurora but in some cases also damage to satellites or power grids. Solar active regions are thought to be the result of magnetic flux concentrations - bundles of magnetic field lines - rising from deep in the solar interior and penetrating the surface. A team consisting of researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS), The University of Göttingen, NorthWest Research Associates, and the High Altitude Observatory of the National Center for Atmospheric Research has now shown that these magnetic flux concentrations move upward through the solar interior at speeds of not more than about 150 m/s. This is much slower than predicted by the prevailing current model. full text

5/3/15:
Multifractals suggests existence of unknown physical mechanism on the Sun
The famous sunspots on the surface of the Earth’s star result from the dynamics of strong magnetic fields, and their numbers are an important indicator of the state of activity on the Sun. At the Institute of Nuclear Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Kraków, Poland, researchers have been conducting multifractal analysis into the changes in the numbers of sunspots. The resulting graphs were surprisingly asymmetrical in shape, suggesting that sunspots may be involved in hitherto unknown physical processes.

10/2014:The largest sunspot in 24 years returns
Tracking a Gigantic Sunspot Across the Sun
An active region on the sun – an area of intense and complex magnetic fields – rotated into view on Oct. 18, 2014. Labeled AR 12192, it soon grew into the largest such region in 24 years, and fired off 10 sizable solar flares as it traversed across the face of the sun. The region was so large it could be seen without a telescope for those looking at the sun with eclipse glasses, as many did during a partial eclipse of the sun on Oct. 23.

comparison of Jupiter and earth to X3.1-class flare on 10/24/14

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