Latest Plasma physics Stories
Approximately every 11 years, the sun undergoes a complete personality change from quiet and calm to violently active. The height of the sun’s activity, known as solar maximum, is a time of numerous sunspots, punctuated with profound eruptions that send radiation and solar particles out into the far reaches of space.
A space weather storm from the sun engulfed our planet on Jan. 21, 2005. The event got its start on Jan. 20, when a cloud of solar material, a coronal mass ejection or CME, burst off the sun and headed toward Earth.
Once every 50 years, more or less, a massive star explodes somewhere in the Milky Way. The resulting blast is terrifyingly powerful, pumping out more energy in a split second than the sun emits in a million years. At its peak, a supernova can outshine the entire Milky Way.
On Aug. 24, 2014, the sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 8:16 a.m. EDT. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured images of the flare, which erupted on the left side of the sun.
On the evening of Aug. 20, 2014, the International Space Station was flying past North America when it flew over the dazzling, green blue lights of an aurora. On board, astronaut Reid Wiseman captured this image of the aurora, seen from above.
As children, we are told never to look directly at the Sun, especially through the lens of a camera, telescope or magnifying glass. To fully understand our star, scientists must use spacecraft that can observe this invisible light before it is absorbed by the atmosphere.
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Astronomers from the University of Maryland and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland have accurately measured and confirmed the existence of a black hole roughly 400 times the mass of our sun.
University of Maryland and NASA astronomers used rhythmic flares of light to measure a brilliant object 12 million light years from Earth, confirming that it is a rare, mysterious intermediate-mass black hole.
The prominent feature that allows for the existence of life on Earth is the Sun. Radiation from our closest star provides heat and energy to our planet, driving biological processes and providing the necessary conditions for liquid water to naturally exist. But our Sun is only but one star in this vast Universe. And as it turns out, most stars are quite different than the one that illuminates our day. For this reason, scientists have, for hundreds of years, attempted to study the other...
Solar cycles: what are they and why should we care about them? Solar cycles are made up of what are known as solar minimums (min) and solar maximums (max). We refer to a solar min at the time when the sun is not active with many sunspots, while a solar max is just the opposite when we see a large increase in sunspot activity. So how long do solar cycles last? Typically they run on what is known as an 11 year cycle from the max to the min and then start over again anew. As of 2012 we...
Solar Physics is a journal for solar and solar-stellar research and the study of solar terrestrial physics. Founded in 1967 by solar physicist Cornelis de Jager and publisher D. Reidel, the journal treats all aspects of solar physics, ranging from the internal structure of the Sun and its evolution, to outer corona and solar wind in interplanetary space. Solar Physics has four more than forty years been the principal journal for publications of fundamental research on the Sun. It is...
Hannes Olof GÃ¶sta AlfvÃ©n (May 30, 1908 - April 2, 1995) was a Swedish plasma physicist born in NorrkÃ¶ping, Sweden. AlfvÃ©n received his PhD from the University of Uppsala in 1934. His thesis was titled "Investigations of the Ultra-short Electromagnetic Waves." He was originally trained as an electrical power engineer and later moved on to research and teaching in the fields of plasma physics. AlfvÃ©n made many contributions to plasma physics, including theories describing the...
Ring Current -- A ring current is an electric current carried by charged particles trapped in a planet's magnetosphere. It is caused by the longitudinal drift of energetic (10-200 keV) particles. Earth's Ring Current Earth's ring current is responsible for geomagnetic storms. The ring current system consists of a band, at a distance of 3-5 RE(1), which lies in the equatorial plane and circulates clockwise around the Earth (when viewed from the north). The particles of this region...
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