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A first for NASA's IRIS: Observing a gigantic eruption of solar material

Date:
May 30, 2014
Source:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Summary:
A coronal mass ejection, or CME, surged off the side of the sun on May 9, 2014, and NASA's newest solar observatory caught it in extraordinary detail. This was the first CME observed by the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, which launched in June 2013 to peer into the lowest levels of the sun's atmosphere with better resolution than ever before.

A coronal mass ejection burst off the side of the sun on May 9, 2014. The giant sheet of solar material erupting was the first CME seen by NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS. The field of view seen here is about five Earths wide and about seven-and-a-half Earths tall.
Credit: NASA/LMSAL/IRIS/SDO/Goddard

A coronal mass ejection, or CME, surged off the side of the sun on May 9, 2014, and NASA's newest solar observatory caught it in extraordinary detail. This was the first CME observed by the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, which launched in June 2013 to peer into the lowest levels of the sun's atmosphere with better resolution than ever before. Watch the movie to see how a curtain of solar material erupts outward at speeds of 1.5 million miles per hour.

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IRIS must commit to pointing at certain areas of the sun at least a day in advance, so catching a CME in the act involves some educated guesses and a little bit of luck.

"We focus in on active regions to try to see a flare or a CME," said Bart De Pontieu, the IRIS science lead at Lockheed Martin Solar & Astrophysics Laboratory in Palo Alto, California. "And then we wait and hope that we'll catch something. This is the first clear CME for IRIS so the team is very excited."

The IRIS imagery focuses in on material of 30,000 kelvins at the base, or foot points, of the CME. The line moving across the middle of the movie is the entrance slit for IRIS's spectrograph, an instrument that can split light into its many wavelengths -- a technique that ultimately allows scientists to measure temperature, velocity and density of the solar material behind the slit.

The field of view for this imagery is about five Earths wide and about seven-and-a-half Earths tall.

A video is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SuAjao9e51U


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "A first for NASA's IRIS: Observing a gigantic eruption of solar material." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140530190600.htm>.
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. (2014, May 30). A first for NASA's IRIS: Observing a gigantic eruption of solar material. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140530190600.htm
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "A first for NASA's IRIS: Observing a gigantic eruption of solar material." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140530190600.htm (accessed January 31, 2015).

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