Posts Tagged ‘magnetic fields’

1 March

Sun & Its CMEs (Coronal Mass Ejections)


Dear Friends, Visitors/Viewers/Readers,
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Some of you asked me for the transcript of the video and commented on the cool images of the Sun and its CMEs, so here is more on the subject matter! Transcript of our video on Feb. 21, 2013 and more fantastic images of the Sun and its CMEs (coronal mass ejections).

Transcript of the video:  The sun, it has shed light on our homes for over four billion years. It will continue to do so for another four. It is massive almost beyond comprehension, constant yet ever changing. Born from the swirling cloud of dust and gas, it is a giant fusion engine that drives the solar system. It seams and broils like a living thing. Loops of plasma rise up, so large that would dwarf earth. Explosion flash from its surface. And yet the sun would also give its warmth and life and beauty….

Coronal mass ejections (or CMEs) are huge clouds of plasma and magnetic fields occasionally thrown off by the sun.

Sun’s CMEs (of plasma & magnetic fields) burst & throw off by the Sun

Scientists study them because the massive burst  pose a threat to  space age technology, and even power grids on the ground. Within each CME lies a kernel, known as the flux rope, tightly wound groups of  magnetic lines that can contain and transport solar material. Astronomers have seen them as CMEs burst off of the sun.

Flux Ropes & CMEs (Coronal Mass Ejections) of the Sun (collaboration of NASA & Sun Is The Future)

But they have been next to  impossible to detect on the sun itself. New research using NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory has now shown that they can be seen in just one of its cameras which shows the very hottest material on the sun. By watching a flux rope form and ejects as a CME, the research has brought some closure to one long standing mysteries, whether a rope is formed before or during a CME eruption. It’s impossible to actually see the flux ropes or any of the sun’s powerful magnetic fields involved with CMEs and flares because these fields are invisible.

Sun’s CME, Flux Ropes, and Internal Magnetic Fields (NASA)

But scientists can map them by observing plasma trapped by these fields, which shows up as thin lines under extreme ultraviolet light. Since earth’s atmosphere naturally filters these UV light, scientists must observe them using telescope in space, such as NASA’s SDO. So there’s been relatively few detailed observations of CMEs, particularly at higher temperatures. SDO images the sun at high image and time resolution. It is also the first satellite to consistently observe light with a wavelength of 131 A (angstroms),

Sun’s CME Flux Ropes viewed in 131 A (angstrom)

which highlights plasma at temperatures  around 10,000,000 degrees. This wavelength is usually reserved for studying solar flares. But what NASA and Naval Research Laboratory scientists  found is that the flux ropes associated with CMEs could only be seen at this temperature. On July 19, 2012, a CME erupted from the visible edge or limb of the sun. Because it was on the limb, the flux ropes were in profile and  particularly visible. Even more important, the flux ropes appeared about 7 hours earlier in the same location. The ropes were visible  as a line  of figure 8’s that looked exactly the way as theorists predicted  they would.

Sun’s CME Flux Ropes viewed in 171 A (angstrom) (NASA)

Sun’s CME Flux Ropes in Figure 8 (NASA)

This is the first direct evidence that flux ropes formed well before the coronal mass ejection. Footage of the CMEs from the SOHO spacecraft confirms the presence of the flux ropes. By adding  footage from the stereo A spacecraft which is viewing the sun from an entirely different angle, the researchers were able to create a three dimensional picture  of the flux ropes. For the most part, they followed the classic figure 8 pattern previously observed and predicted by solar models. But some of these ropes also had feet which extended farther away than scientists had expected. This deviation from the model is interesting and requires further studies. Besides show and proof of early flux rope formation, the study also paves the way for future flux ropes and CME research by literally finding a new light  to observe them in. The possibility of using flux rope formations as early warning system for CMEs means this line of research can have some very practical and far reaching applications and it could also help to wrap up some of the long standing mysteries of the sun.

If you are inspired or enthralled by these images, please feel free to visit or click inside the big rectangular box below with SUN IS THE FUTURE for gift items with these images.

~have a bright and sunny day~
gathered, edited, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker
any of your questions, commenents, suggestions are always welcomed below or privately at

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21 February

Understanding Our Powerful Sun & Its CME (Coronal Mass Ejection)


Dear Friends, Visitors/Viewers/Readers,

(Please click on red links below)

As a result of posting The Unexpected Atmospheric Intruder on Feb. 16, 2013, I’ve received multiple  questions/concerns expressed by our viewers toward the space and our Sun.  Therefore, I’ve prepared this particular session on “Understanding Our Powerful Sun & Its CME(coronal mass ejection)” for your viewing pleasure, to further our appreciation of our Sun, and to kindle our curiosity and wonder for exploration into the space.  With the help from NASA Heliophysics (meaning Physics of the Sun),  I’d like to present to you this composite of 2 footage about the Sun, the star at the center of our Solar System, and its CME (coronal mass ejection), the massive burst of solar wind and magnetic fields rising above the solar corona or being released into space.  Be sure to stay long enough to also view the activities of CME.


Can you feel the light and intense warmth projected from the screen…from this giant active star ?

Our Sun, with a diamter-1,392,684 km (109 x that of Earth) (NASA)

While the origin and sustenance of life here on Earth are intimately connected to this active star of over 4.6 billion years, our fate in the next 4+ billion years will depend much on our ability to understand and predict Sun’s variability in producing streams of high energy particles and radiation that can help/harm life on Earth or alter its evolution.  Better understanding of the connections between the Sun, solar wind, planetary space environments, and our place in the Galaxy would enable us to uncover the fundamental physical processes occurring throughout the Universe and allow us to predict the impacts of solar variability on humans, our technological systems, and the presence of life here on Earth. Since heliophysics is simply too vast a field to cover in one post, we will be concentrating in some basic understanding of the Sun and its coronal mass ejection (CME) in this one.

The almost perfectly spherical Sun consists of hot plasma

Sun’s plasma  trapped by magnetic fields shows up as thin lines in extreme UV light (NASA)

interwoven with magnetic fields,

with a diameter of about 1,392,684 km (about 109 x that of earth) and a mass about 2 x 10^30 kilograms (about 330,000 x that of earth). It accounts for almost 99.86% of the total mass of the Solar System.  Chemically, about three quarters of the Sun’s mass consists of hydrogen while the rest is mostly helium…and the remainder (about 1.69%) consists of heavier elements such as oxygencarbonneoniron, etc.  The Sun formed from the gravitational collapse of a region within a large molecular cloud. Most of the matter gathered in the center, while the rest flattened into an orbiting disk that would become the Solar System. The central mass became increasingly hot and dense, eventually initiating thermonuclear fusion in its core. It is thought that almost all other stars form by this process. The Sun’s stellar classification, based on spectral class, is G2V, and is informally designated as a yellow dwarf, because its visible radiation is most intense in the yellow-green portion of the spectrum and although its color is white, from the surface of the Earth it may appear yellow because of atmospheric scattering of blue light. In the spectral class label, G2 indicates its surface temperature of approximately 5778 K (5505 °C), and V indicates that the Sun, like most stars, is a main-sequence star, and thus generates its energy by nuclear fusion of hydrogen nuclei into helium. In its core, the Sun fuses 620 million metric tons of hydrogen each second.  The Sun (the star closest to Earth, approximately 149.6 million kilometers away or the distance that light travels in 8 minutes and 19 seconds) is brighter than about 85% of the stars in the Milky Way galaxy.

The Milky Way

Star Formatioin

Its hot corona continuously expands in space, creating the solar wind,  a stream of charged particles that extends to the heliopause at roughly 100 astronomical units. (Source: wikipedia)

Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) release huge quantities of matter and  electromagnetic radiation into space above the sun’s surface, either near the corona (sometimes called a solar prominence), or farther into the planet system, or beyond (interplanetary CME).

Sun’s CME (interplanetary)

The ejected material is a plasma consisting primarily of electrons and protons, but may contain small quantities of heavier elements such as helium, oxygen, and even iron. The theory of heavier element emissions during a CME is speculative information and requires further verification. It is highly unlikely that a CME contains any substantial amount of heavier elements, especially considering that the sun has not yet arrived at the point of helium flash and thus cannot begin to fuse elements heavier than helium. Coronal mass ejections are associated with enormous changes and disturbances in the coronal magnetic field. They are usually observed with a white-light coronagraph. Recent scientific research has shown that the phenomenon of magnetic reconnection is responsible for CME and solar flares. Magnetic reconnection is the name given to the rearrangement of magnetic field lines when two oppositely directed magnetic fields are brought together. This rearrangement is accompanied with a sudden release of energy stored in the original oppositely directed fields. Most ejections originate from active regions on the Sun’s surface, such as groupings of sunspots associated with frequent flares. Near solar maxima the Sun produces about three CMEs every day, whereas near solar minima there is about one CME every five days.

As magnetic fields of the sun rearrange and realign, sunspots can appear on its surface. From Feb.19-20, 2013, scientists watched a giant sunspot form in under 48 hours. The sunspot shown in this image from the SDO (Solar Dynamics Observatory) has grown to over six Earth diameters across, but its full extent is hard to judge since the spot lies on a sphere not a flat disk. (NASA)

NASA-Another CME from Sunspot, via coronograph spectrometers









On the sun, magnetic reconnection may happen on solar arcades—a series of closely occurring ropes of magnetic lines of force. These lines of force quickly reconnect into a low arcade of ropes,

Sun’s CME flux ropes

Sun’s CME flux ropes in figure 8

leaving a helix of magnetic field unconnected to the rest of the arcade. The sudden release of energy in this reconnection causes the solar flare. The unconnected magnetic helical field and the material that it contains may violently expand outwards forming a CME.This also explains why CMEs and solar flares typically erupt from what are known as the active regions on the sun where magnetic fields are much stronger on average.

Sun’s CME flux ropes seen from different angles

NASA SDO (Solar Dynamics Observatory) telescope (NASA)









I hope you enjoyed viewing/reading this piece as much as I had in researching and composing this piece.

~have a bright and sunny day~

Gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker

Any of your comments/suggestions/questions are welcomed at


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22 August

Understanding the Sun


Dear Friends & Viewers/Visitors/Readers,

(Please click onred linksbelow)

Yes, as I’ve titled our previous post, dated Aug. 20, 2012, The Most Intensely Heated & Dangerous Relationship Research Project: Improving Earth’s Future Environment-Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP) & Green Fuels, full appreciation of our relationship with the Sun will be forever paramount for Earth’s environment, energy, communications, climate/weather, and last but not least, Earth’ s longevity.  This bubbling, boiling, fireball in the sky at ninety-three million miles (149.6 million kilometers) away, supporting almost all life on Earth by photosynthesis and driving Earth’s climate and weather ….matters a great deal to us earthlings.  Some modern experts of the Sun are predicting the most violent solar activities in our modern history.

According to wikipedia:

The Sun is gradually becoming more luminous (about 10% every 1 billion years), and its surface temperature is slowly rising. The Sun used to be fainter in the past, which is possibly the reason life on Earth has only existed for about 1 billion years on land. The increase in solar temperatures is such that in about another billion years the surface of the Earth will likely become too hot for liquid water to exist, ending all terrestrial life.

Solar Evolution (wikimedia commons)

Solar Life Cycle (wikimedia commons)

Sunlight is Earth’s primary source of energy. The solar constant is the amount of power that the Sun deposits per unit area that is directly exposed to sunlight. The solar constant is equal to approximately 1,368 W/m2 (watt per square meter) at a distance of one astronomical unit (AU) from the Sun (that is, on or near Earth). Sunlight on the surface of Earth is attenuated by the Earth’s atmosphere so that less power arrives at the surface—closer to 1,000 W/m2 in clear conditions when the Sun is near the zenith.

Zenith (wikimedia commons)

Actual Sunset (wikimedia commons)

Actual Sunrise (wikimedia commons)

Solar energy can be harnessed by a variety of natural and synthetic processes—photosynthesis by plants captures the energy of sunlight and converts it to chemical form (oxygen and reduced carbon compounds), while direct heating or electrical conversion by solar cells are used by solar power equipment to generate electricity or to do other useful work, sometimes employing concentrating solar power (that it is measured in suns). The energy stored in petroleum and other fossil fuels was originally converted from sunlight by photosynthesis in the distant past.


We are living in a world that is increasingly susceptible to space weather disturbances.  Many interconnected physical processes strongly influenced by solar variability, affect the health and safety of travelers in space and the habitability of alien environments.  This science of the Sun-Solar System Connections is termed “Heliophysics“.

Based on NASA’s rich history of exploration of the Earths neighborhood and distant planetary systems, we are developing the quantitative knowledge needed to help assure the safety of the new generation of human and robotic explorers. The Heliophysics Program has been completely reevaluated to address the needs of the Vision for Space Exploration.

NASA’s future research and exploration within its Heliophysics program aims to explore the Sun-Earth system to understand the Sun and its effects on Earth, the solar system, and the space environmental conditions that will be experienced by explorers, and to demonstrate technologies that can improve future operational systems.  Hear! Hear! Let’s optimize our use of the Sun’s energy and learn to protect ourselves from its potential hazards. Below, we see how NASA uses high resolution images of the sun and modeling of solar storms, to improve our ability to predict when solar storm hits and how it will affect our daily lives. NASA’s study of sun’s variability, solar storms, and solar wind will also increase our understanding of Sun’s  effect on Earth and Earth’s magnetic field.  The most important researches of Heliophysics program concerns our daily lives:  effects on satellite and ground communications, aircraft navigation systems, power grids, etc. Let’s take a look at the three broad science and exploration objectives of NASA’s Heliophysics Program in the video clip below: to open the frontier to space weather prediction, to better understand the nature of Earth in space, and to safeguard the journey of exploration.

~have a bright and sunny day~

gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker,

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