Latest Solar Dynamics Observatory Stories

2012-04-09 09:46:20

[ Watch the Video ] One day in the fall of 2011, Neil Sheeley, a solar scientist at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., did what he always does — look through the daily images of the sun from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). But on this day he saw something he'd never noticed before: a pattern of cells with bright centers and dark boundaries occurring in the sun's atmosphere, the corona. These cells looked somewhat like a cell pattern that occurs on the...

Comet Corpses In The Solar Wind
2012-01-21 04:13:51

[ Watch the Video ] A paper published in the Jan. 20th issue of Science raises an intriguing new possibility for astronomers: unearthing comet corpses in the solar wind.  The new research is based on dramatic images of a comet disintegrating in the sun's atmosphere last July. Comet Lovejoy grabbed headlines in Dec. 2011 when it plunged into the sun's atmosphere and emerged again relatively intact.  But it was not the first comet to graze the sun. Last summer a smaller comet...

SDO Helps Measure Magnetic Fields On The Sun's Surface
2012-01-19 13:34:38

[ Watch the Video ] A subset of data that helps map out the sun's magnetic fields was recently released from the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). Observations that measure the strength and direction of magnetic fields on the solar surface -- known as vector magnetograms -- play a crucial role in understanding how those fields change over time and trigger giant eruptions off the surface of the sun such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs). Collecting the information needed...

Comet Survives Close Encounter With Our Sun
2011-12-18 06:18:30

[ Watch the Video ] On December 16, an armada of spacecraft witnessed something that many experts thought impossible.  Comet Lovejoy flew through the hot atmosphere of the sun and emerged intact. "It's absolutely astounding," says Karl Battams of the Naval Research Lab in Washington DC.  "I did not think the comet's icy core was big enough to survive plunging through the several million degree solar corona for close to an hour, but Comet Lovejoy is still with us." The...

SDO Spots Largest Sunspots In Years
2011-11-04 11:20:44

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) spotted one of the largest new sunspots to have appeared on the surface of the sun in years. The area is nearly 25,000 miles wide, which is over three times larger than the Earth. NASA said the region has already experienced about eight solar flares, including an M-class flare on November 2. The space agency also said that X-class flares are possible, which includes the largest possible solar flares. The sun shot off a flare from this region...

The Secret Lives Of Solar Flares
2011-09-20 09:12:45

  [ View the Video ] One hundred and fifty two years ago, a man in England named Richard Carrington discovered solar flares. It happened at 11:18 AM on the cloudless morning of Thursday, September 1st, 1859. Just as usual on every sunny day, the 33-year-old solar astronomer was busy in his private observatory, projecting an image of the sun onto a screen and sketching what he saw. On that particular morning, he traced the outlines of an enormous group of sunspots. Suddenly,...

solar flare
2011-09-09 06:33:33

  A third and fourth flare have erupted from sunspot 1283. The third came on September 7 at 6:36 PM ET, and was categorized as an X1.8 by the GOES spacecraft, making it the second X-class flare within 24 hours. There was a coronal mass ejection (CME) associated with all three of the recent flares, but none of them are expected to travel directly toward Earth, and the first two were unlikely to cause aurora. NASA computer models suggest that the latest CME may give a glancing...

Word of the Day
  • A terrible or repulsive person.
Regarding the etymology of 'humgruffin,' the OED says (rather unhelpfully) that it's a 'made-up word.' We might guess that 'hum' comes from 'humbug' or possibly 'hum' meaning 'a disagreeable smell,' while 'gruffin' could be a combination of 'gruff' and 'griffin.'