Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Hinode Views 'Magnetic Trilobite' Sunspot

Date:
September 20, 2007
Source:
National Aeronautics And Space Administration
Summary:
"We've never seen anything quite like it," says solar physicist Lika Guhathakurta from NASA headquarters. Guhathakurta watched in amazement as Saku Tsuneta of Japan played a movie of sunspot 10926 breaking through the turbulent surface of the sun. Before their very eyes an object as big as a planet materialized, and no one was prepared for the form it took. "It looks like a prehistoric trilobite," said Marc De Rosa, a scientist from Lockheed Martin's Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory in Palo Alto, Calif. "To me it seemed more like cellular mitosis in which duplicated chromosomes self-assemble into two daughter cells," countered Guhathakurta.

A magnetic map of emerging sunspot 10926 recorded by Hinode in Dec. 2006. The "trilobite" centered above is about the size of Earth.
Credit: Hinode JAXA/NASA

"We've never seen anything quite like it," says solar physicist Lika Guhathakurta from NASA headquarters.

Guhathakurta sat in an audience of nearly two hundred colleagues at the Living with a Star Workshop in Boulder, Colorado, and watched in amazement as Saku Tsuneta of Japan played a movie of sunspot 10926 breaking through the turbulent surface of the sun. Before their very eyes an object as big as a planet materialized, and no one was prepared for the form it took.

"It looks like a prehistoric trilobite," said Marc De Rosa, a scientist from Lockheed Martin's Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory in Palo Alto, Calif. "To me it seemed more like cellular mitosis in which duplicated chromosomes self-assemble into two daughter cells," countered Guhathakurta.

"This movie* is a magnetogram -- a dynamic map tracing the sunspot's intense magnetism," Guhathakurta explains. "Black represents negative (S) polarity, and white represents positive (N)."

The data were gathered by the Japanese Space Agency's Hinode spacecraft, launched in Sept. 2006 as "Solar-B" on a mission to study sunspots and solar storms. "This is the highest resolution magnetogram ever taken from space," says Tsuneta, Hinode's chief scientist at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan in Tokyo. "It's showing us things we've never seen before."

Magnetograms are the best way to study sunspots. Why? Although sunspots appear solid and sturdy, they are not made of matter. Sunspots are planet-sized knots of magnetism created by the sun's inner dynamo. Born in the depths, they bob to the solar surface where they can shift, merge, split and even appear to "swim."

"Sometimes the shifting and merging gets out of hand," says Guhathakurta. "Magnetic fields become unstable and explode, producing a powerful solar flare." The effects are manifold: flares can disrupt communications on Earth, disable satellites, threaten astronauts with deadly radiation storms and (on the bright side) trigger lovely aurora borealis--the Northern Lights. Although researchers have been studying flares for more than a century, they still cannot issue accurate flare forecasts--something astronauts in orbit or en route to the Moon would dearly love to have. Improving this situation is a key goal of the Hinode mission.

Participants at the Living With A Star Workshop were amazed by the quality of Hinode's data. "The sensitivity of Hinode's Solar Optical Telescope is much higher than anything we've ever launched before. This allows Hinode to detect even the very faintest magnetic fields." By watching the ebb and flow of magnetism and the surprising forms that emerge, "we hope to understand the behavior of sunspots and predict their eruptions."

But first they've got to deal with the trilobites. "We have a lot of work to do," says Guhathakurta. "But what a wonderful problem."

*Quicktime Movie: http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2007/images/trilobite/Hinode_lower.mov


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Aeronautics And Space Administration. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Aeronautics And Space Administration. "Hinode Views 'Magnetic Trilobite' Sunspot." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 September 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070919172911.htm>.
National Aeronautics And Space Administration. (2007, September 20). Hinode Views 'Magnetic Trilobite' Sunspot. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070919172911.htm
National Aeronautics And Space Administration. "Hinode Views 'Magnetic Trilobite' Sunspot." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070919172911.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: NASA Captures Solar Flare

Raw: NASA Captures Solar Flare

AP (Sep. 1, 2014) NASA reported the sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, on August 24th. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the images of the flare, which erupted on the left side of the sun. (Sept. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space Shuttle Discovery's Legacy, 30 Years Later

Space Shuttle Discovery's Legacy, 30 Years Later

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) The space shuttle Discovery launched for the very first time 30 years ago. Here's a look back at its legacy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Experiment Tests Whether Universe Is Actually A Hologram

Experiment Tests Whether Universe Is Actually A Hologram

Newsy (Aug. 27, 2014) Researchers at Fermilab are using a device called "The Holometer" to test whether our universe is actually a 2-D hologram that just seems 3-D. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Rocket Explodes After Liftoff

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Rocket Explodes After Liftoff

Newsy (Aug. 23, 2014) The private spaceflight company says it is preparing a thorough investigation into Friday's mishap. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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