Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Violent Truth Behind Sun's 'Gentle Giants' Uncovered

Date:
February 11, 2003
Source:
Particle Physics & Astronomy Research Council
Summary:
Solar physicists at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, University College London (MSSL-UCL) have discovered new clues to understanding explosions on the Sun.

Solar physicists at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, University College London (MSSL-UCL) have discovered new clues to understanding explosions on the Sun.

Related Articles


Coronal mass ejections are violent explosions that can fling electrified gas [plasma] with a mass greater than Mount Everest towards the Earth with destructive consequences for satellites. They can originate from active regions on the Sun, long known to consist of forests of loops filled with plasma. These active loops are roughly 50,000 km in size. However, active regions on either side of the solar disk are frequently connected by giant loops, which can bridge the Sun's equator. These loops have long been thought of as the gentle giants of the Sun, but in a paper to be published early this year in the journal of Astronomy and Astrophysics, the researchers describe the explosive characteristics of these giants.

An example of a giant loop can clearly be seen in the figure where the width of the arrow represents the size of the Earth. These giant loops of plasma are 450,000 km long - large enough to engulf 40 Earths. If Concorde could fly along one of these loops, it would take nearly 9 days to complete the journey!

Coronal mass ejections are violent explosions that cause all sorts of effects from the destruction of satellites, to the creation of the aurora. These effects are commonly referred to as 'space weather'. Using data taken by the Yohkoh and SOHO satellites studying the Sun, the scientists analysed the giant loops to see how frequently they erupt. In the past only one eruption had been observed and so they have been considered the gentle giants of the Sun that do not explode. The researchers found that not only can these huge structures be thrown away from the Sun, but they can also be heated up by a factor of 5, to temperatures of 14 thousand times the temperature of boiling water. They investigated how the loops explode, and it was found that the longer the loop, the more likely it is to erupt - so these are culprits to watch more carefully in the future!

Alexi Glover, part of the space weather team at the European Space Agency [ESA], explains, "These huge loops have been observed for many years - but their connection with coronal mass ejections is only just being understood. In the future we hope to be able to predict coronal mass ejections before they take place, and step by step we are heading towards that goal."

Because of our increasing reliance on communication and navigation satellites for TV, GPS and national and international security, it is vital that we understand how the Sun can release these explosions.

Dr. Louise Harra of MSSL-UCL says, "Space weather is a rapidly developing field, and a vital key to progress is by understanding in detail the physics of Sun. The UK plays a leading role in solar physics and these new results are helping us make substantial advancements in our understanding of these beautiful, but potentially hazardous, coronal mass ejections."

###

Images are available to download from the PPARC website at http://www.pparc.ac.uk/Nw/Press/giant_loops.asp


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Particle Physics & Astronomy Research Council. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Particle Physics & Astronomy Research Council. "Violent Truth Behind Sun's 'Gentle Giants' Uncovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 February 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/02/030211072446.htm>.
Particle Physics & Astronomy Research Council. (2003, February 11). Violent Truth Behind Sun's 'Gentle Giants' Uncovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/02/030211072446.htm
Particle Physics & Astronomy Research Council. "Violent Truth Behind Sun's 'Gentle Giants' Uncovered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/02/030211072446.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

NASA's Planet-Finding Kepler Mission Isn't Over After All

NASA's Planet-Finding Kepler Mission Isn't Over After All

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) More than a year after NASA declared the Kepler spacecraft broken beyond repair, scientists have figured out how to continue getting useful data. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) NASA's Curiosity rover detected methane on Mars and organic compounds on the surface, but it doesn't quite prove there was life ... yet. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Evidence of Life on Mars? NASA Rover Finds Methane, Organic Chemicals

Evidence of Life on Mars? NASA Rover Finds Methane, Organic Chemicals

Reuters - US Online Video (Dec. 16, 2014) NASA's Mars Curiosity rover finds methane in the Martian atmosphere and organic chemicals in the planet's soil, the latest hint that Mars was once suitable for microbial life. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Geminids Meteor Shower Lights Up Skies in China

Geminids Meteor Shower Lights Up Skies in China

AFP (Dec. 16, 2014) The Geminids meteor shower lights up the skies over the Changbai Mountains in northeast China. Duration: 01:03 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins