Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)

Tags:

The Sun's Angry Red Spot
March 15, 2012 7:38 PM   Subscribe

The Sun has been in a bit of a mood lately, spitting out some pretty big flares (including the second largest one of the current magnetic cycle) Be sure to scroll down for the photo of the entire Sun, it will change the way you think about it.
posted by HuronBob (61 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thanks to that link, I can now add "ensolaranate" to my list of achievements.
posted by ShutterBun at 7:47 PM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


The first picture in this related article gives a point of comparison against the Earth. They're big.
posted by codacorolla at 7:47 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


it will change the way you think about it

I now consider the sun my sworn enemy, and have dedicated the remainder of my life to destroying it!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:50 PM on March 15, 2012 [9 favorites]


I now consider the sun my sworn enemy, and have dedicated the remainder of my life to destroying it!

Good luck with THAT!
posted by HuronBob at 7:51 PM on March 15, 2012


I recommend a flamethrower. That ought to work.
posted by stargell at 7:54 PM on March 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


it will change the way you think about it

It did. Now I will think of the sun as large and slightly scabrous orange.
posted by orange swan at 7:57 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


This only confirms my views on the Sun.

Still, I'm excited to see if the recent flares will mean a chance to see the aurora a bit further South. Being in London, I'd have to travel a ways to see anything below international news level activity, but I'll be keeping an eye on AuroraWatch UK.
posted by lucidium at 7:59 PM on March 15, 2012


I now consider the sun my sworn enemy, and have dedicated the remainder of my life to destroying it!

Whoa whoa whoa. Slow down there stav. We're starting small and destroying this planet first. If there's any of us left after that, we'll tackle that big, fiery beast
posted by eyeballkid at 8:00 PM on March 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Another Phil Plait Metafilter post from just over a week ago.
posted by twoleftfeet at 8:08 PM on March 15, 2012


Will my tinfoil hat save me from this?
posted by gideonswann at 8:08 PM on March 15, 2012


The sun is like some sort of star of death.
posted by Apropos of Something at 8:09 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


We're starting small and destroying this planet first.

It's really not that far
You can just blow the star
It's a small world after all...


didn't I just do that? yeah, I did and I'll do it again BWAHAHAHAHA
posted by eriko at 8:10 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


At firat nano-glance, seeing the capitalized "Sun", I thought: that British rag did what now?

(Seriously, the convention is "the earth" for our planet and "Earth" when referring to it alongside Mars or Venus, e.g.; so isn't it "the sun", lowercase, and perhaps "Sol" or "the Sun" only when mentioned in concert with other stars?)
posted by Philofacts at 8:12 PM on March 15, 2012


I recommend a flamethrower. That ought to work.

Nah, just challenge it to a snowball fight.
posted by mannequito at 8:13 PM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


We went out to the McDonald Observatory over new year's this year, and took the daytime tour of the scopes. The first thing they did was gather us in their theater and show a projection of a real-time view of the sun through one of their 36" (I think?) scopes. To actually watch those granules bubble around in real time was utterly jaw-dropping. I can't recommend the experience highly enough.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:14 PM on March 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


I really was expecting this: http://wilwheaton.tumblr.com/post/19362023938/moderation-huge-coronal-hole-is-sending-solar

The Eye of Sauron really fits that image. I have no idea if that's real or what, but holy crap...

(and that is actually the space mayan jumpgate activating for their return, heh)
posted by usagizero at 8:16 PM on March 15, 2012


You don't have to go to McDonald Observatory for that (although you should). Your local astronomy club can hook you up with a live view. (If you're going to be looking at the sun through a telescope, you really need to know what you're doing.)
posted by neuron at 8:23 PM on March 15, 2012


Since the beginning of time, man has yearned to destroy the sun.
posted by kyrademon at 8:23 PM on March 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


The Sun has been in a bit of a mood lately

That's what happens when you arrest her editor-in-chief.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 8:33 PM on March 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


codacorolla's link put me in mind of Douglas Adams' Total Perspective Vortex. Thought provoking and amazing...
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:48 PM on March 15, 2012


The first picture in this related article gives a point of comparison against the Earth. They're big.

So, a giant ape monster who lives in the sun (?!?) spit the earth put of its mouth? Awesome
posted by holdkris99 at 8:52 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Be sure to scroll down for the photo of the entire Sun, it will change the way you think about it.

Before picture: big, bright, lousy weather.

After picture: big, bright, lousy weather, slightly terrifying.

Myth: confirmed.

Those are very cool pictures. What a scary thing even a tiny, sedate little star like ours is.
posted by Malor at 9:01 PM on March 15, 2012


Whenever I look at a picture of the sun, or read about it, or even think about it for a moment, it blows my mind so fucking completely that it's all I can do to not stagger about and collapse shrieking. Holy shit. Holy shit. And then I think about growing up Catholic, but no God as repulsive and petty as the God in the Bible would have had the inclination to ever build something so mind-numbingly vast and incredible.
posted by tumid dahlia at 9:24 PM on March 15, 2012 [12 favorites]


The full pic of the sun is bloody amazing!
posted by estuardo at 9:30 PM on March 15, 2012


The Sun Machine is Coming Down, and We're Gonna Have a Party oh oh oh
posted by Sailormom at 9:36 PM on March 15, 2012


THE SUN IS THERE

(I once did a little project in solar physics. It didn't work out. That seems to be a theme in my career.)
posted by dirigibleman at 9:46 PM on March 15, 2012


lucidium: "I'd have to travel a ways to see anything below international news level activity"

You'd be surprised. I've seen aurora from a light polluted area at 36N several times in the last decade and none of those CMEs made the news outside of space weather sites. It has been quite some time since the last one, though. Obviously, the show is more spectacular when skies are darker.

It generally seems to take a pretty decent X class flare and, most importantly, a certain magnetic orientation in the solar wind.
posted by wierdo at 9:53 PM on March 15, 2012


The sun is definitely shining out of an arse, or vice versa.
posted by a non e mouse at 10:19 PM on March 15, 2012


Be sure to scroll down for the photo of the entire Sun, it will change the way you think about it.

Yes, due to the last photo I now think of the sun as a much larger and scarier image of the ol' black and white egg and sperm fertilization. Compare the image under the 'Sequence of Events in Fertilization' heading to the image in the post.
posted by librarylis at 11:18 PM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Science is awesome. Until you get a face full of plasma.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:00 AM on March 16, 2012


Back in 2007, BLDGBLOG reviewed the Alex Garland movie Sunshine, which was quite a silly film in the end. Here's one paragraph from the review that always comes to me whenever I see one of these images of the solar disk:
... as the ship approaches its solar rendezvous, a kind of elemental, alien hostility begins to emerge – not from within the crew members, but from within the Sun itself. Far from being a beneficent source of light in the sky, generously tanning the bodies of we Earthlings below, the Sun is revealed as a monstrous and abiological source of mutative radiation, inhumanly immense, so bright you can't see it, disintegrating nearly everything that comes near.
posted by Ritchie at 12:15 AM on March 16, 2012


Oh wow, you can actually get a real time view of the sun at a bunch of different color views.

Also, the sun is actually getting brighter, and in a few hundred million to 1.5 billion years it will actually render the earth inhospitable to life, the oceans will literally boil away.
posted by delmoi at 12:16 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right We're all doomed...
posted by arcticseal at 12:17 AM on March 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


I saw a presentation just a couple of days ago about the geeky network/data side of the Solar Dynamics Observatory.
The SDO science team involves solar scientists in institutions across the US, Europe, and Asia. SDO science level data is distributed to these teams at a typical continuous rate of 30-40 megabytes/sec. The talk will describe the top level goals of the mission, some recent results, and a very brief overview of the data distribution system.
They collect data in the petabyte per year range. Hopefully the video and slide will be available soon (for the geekily inclined).
posted by zengargoyle at 12:51 AM on March 16, 2012


Back in 2007, BLDGBLOG reviewed the Alex Garland movie Sunshine, which was quite a silly film in the end.

I really loved that movie, even with the goofy 'science', at least until it devolved into a by-the-numbers monster movie in the last act.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:00 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


APOD (Astronomy Picture of the Day) has been great (as usual!) about posting photos related to the solar flares as well. Saw the pink one a few days ago, and yesterday they had an amazing gamma ray comparison of our Sun flaring with the Vela Pulsar (also awesomely known as a Neutron Star-Ring-Jet).

I totally relate to tumid dahlia. I was raised in fundamentalist evangelical churches, but have been agnostic/atheist at heart for a long time, and loved astronomy so much I studied it at university. There is nothing like going outside with that knowledge in your head – even a little suffices – and being completely, utterly dumbfounded at the wonder that is our world, life, and the universe. (APOD is great for learning more through a daily dose of wonderment.)
posted by fraula at 1:46 AM on March 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


A daily dose of wonderment that can be delivered straight to your (windows) desktop as a background via https://sites.google.com/site/apodwallpaper/

There's about 2 or days out of every week I'll have a "WOAAAH!" moment after switching to a (virtual) desktop without any app window obscuring the background.
posted by titus-g at 3:36 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just makes me feel so proud of all those little soldier-bottles of SPF 30 lined up, ready for summer.
posted by thinkpiece at 4:03 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


One of my fondest memories of childhood was using a telescope to view the sun. There was a special filter you could put on the eyepiece so you could look directly at the sun, though I think it was recommended to only do it for short amount of time.

Instead, it was recommended that you use the filter to place the sun in the viewfinder and then project the image of the sun onto an included white metal plate. But that seemed silly if you had a filter which enabled you to look directly at the sun.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:21 AM on March 16, 2012


And then I think about growing up Catholic, but no God as repulsive and petty as the God in the Bible would have had the inclination to ever build something so mind-numbingly vast and incredible.

What a ridiculous thing to say. Of course the God of the Bible could build an enormous fireball. And furthermore, He'd use it for His usual benevolent and wise purpose: the torture the souls He created for all eternity because He'd deliberately made them flawed and unable to obey a set of petty and arbitrary rules.
posted by DU at 4:29 AM on March 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


That is one miasma of incandescent plasma!
posted by TedW at 4:49 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nice TedW. I actually looked up They Might Be Giants on their song about One. They sing that 'There's Only One Everything'. I wondered if there is a definition of 1 that says "One is the total number of sets that contains everything". Like an advanced maths concept. Like all of infinity can fit into One set. Haven't found that definition. Or haven't searched hard enough. Or it doesn't exist.
posted by joecacti at 5:40 AM on March 16, 2012


One of my fondest memories of childhood was using a telescope to view the sun. There was a special filter you could put on the eyepiece so you could look directly at the sun, though I think it was recommended to only do it for short amount of time.

I had one of those too - the dark green tint is reminiscent of welder's glass, maybe it's even the same material - and I think the reasoning was that after a time the heat of the focused light rays might overheat the filter glass and cause it to fail, which would obviously be bad. The alternative filter that was supposed to be much safer but which I never got for my humble 4-inch reflector was a shiny filter that fit over the open end of the tube and kept most of the light from entering.
posted by aught at 5:58 AM on March 16, 2012


They sing that 'There's Only One Everything'. I wondered if there is a definition of 1 that says "One is the total number of sets that contains everything".

Try looking up the definition of "everything".
posted by DU at 6:42 AM on March 16, 2012


. . . it's the same old thing as yesterday . . .
posted by eggman at 6:45 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I now consider the sun my sworn enemy, and have dedicated the remainder of my life to destroying it!
Smithers: Well, Sir, you've certainly vanquished all your enemies: the
          elementary school, the local tavern, the old age home...you
          must be very proud.
   Burns: [stuffing money into his wallet] No, not while my greatest
          nemesis still provides our customers with free light, heat and
          energy.  I call this enemy...the sun.
          [throws a switch; a control panel appears at his desk]
          [another button slides the floor off a model of Springfield]
          Since the beginning of time man has yearned to destroy the
          sun.  I will do the next best thing...block it out!
          [another button raises a shield over the model town]

posted by kirkaracha at 6:47 AM on March 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


One of my fondest memories of childhood was using a telescope to view the sun. There was a special filter you could put on the eyepiece so you could look directly at the sun, though I think it was recommended to only do it for short amount of time.

I had one of those too - the dark green tint is reminiscent of welder's glass, maybe it's even the same material


I was actually able find on the internet a chart showing the proper darkness of welding glass to look at a solar eclipse and was able to get it pretty cheap. Then, of course, it was cloudy the day of the eclipse.

The Hydrogen-alpha filters used for these pictures give much better results, but are not cheap.
posted by TedW at 6:48 AM on March 16, 2012


FTA: "Yegads [click to embiggen]."

That is just blindingly cool language.
posted by obscurator at 6:57 AM on March 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


The first picture in this related article gives a point of comparison against the Earth. They're big.

Here's something to consider: Look at that picture of Earth vs. the sunspot, then look at the full sun image and think of how Earth stacks up against the sunspots on the full disk Sun -- a mere speck.

Now look at the big filament which is roughly the distance of the Earth to the Moon. Multiply that by 385 to get the true distance that "speck" orbits about the Sun. That speck where you and everyone you know lives.

Bonus: now imagine you're looking for that speck crossing in front of the Sun from, say, 100 light years away when the sun itself is only a pinpoint of light. That's what they are doing with the Kepler observatory to find exoplanets.
posted by CosmicRayCharles at 8:29 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


It is always disconcerting to have it pointed out that you, and everything you know and hold dear, can be effectivey, Sneezed out of existence from an unimaginable distance.

That is some fucked up awesome.

Also: the writing on the site is indeed blazingly cool. Well Done! Great Post HuronBob.
posted by djrock3k at 8:40 AM on March 16, 2012


And furthermore, He'd use it for His usual benevolent and wise purpose: the torture the souls He created for all eternity because He'd deliberately made them flawed and unable to obey a set of petty and arbitrary rules.

Yes. That is a completely fair description of the God of the Jewish / Muslim / Christian tradition. The majority of humanity thanks you for your intellectually honest description of what we believe.
posted by gauche at 8:44 AM on March 16, 2012


For me the Sun has illuminated a new fear.
posted by Splunge at 12:41 PM on March 16, 2012


I am really excited and only slightly terrified about the sun's activity in its current cycle. All of the things we've been learning about the sun recently and all the imaging information out there makes it fun to watch, but also "Whoa. There is an amazingly large fusion reactor at the center of our solar system which we know surprisingly little about." In any case, I've been having fun following the activity on SpaceWeather, which has updates on activity, holes, CMEs, flares, Auroral alerts, asteroids and good photography.
posted by nTeleKy at 2:48 PM on March 16, 2012


We've been having great northern lights here and cloudless skies so you can actually see them, which is a big deal here in Southeast Alaska. It's a pretty cloudy place.

What I want to know is, did anyone else see the face in the last picture? It's creepy.
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 3:55 PM on March 16, 2012


I once wrote a series of stories about effectively immortal machine intelligences which decided it was too dangerous to settle human colonies around stars because of all the danger there. I intended to make them sound like their immortality had driven them a bit wonky, but that full image of the Sun makes me think they might have had a point.
posted by localroger at 4:44 PM on March 16, 2012


The first image is monochromatic, so you can shift the hue to any color you like (for example in Gimp, Colors>Colorize). It's difficult to find a monochromatic wallpaper which looks good in any color. After trying blue and green as desktop wallpaper, I made 36 of them in different hues. Now my wallpaper changes colors imperceptibly every few minutes--highly recommended. I wasn't even on drugs.
posted by nemp at 8:25 PM on March 16, 2012


Share? ;)
posted by wierdo at 8:30 PM on March 17, 2012


Now my wallpaper changes colors imperceptibly every few minutes

Now where have I seen that before?
posted by TedW at 2:17 AM on March 18, 2012


A little bit of computational / data side of the SDO.

Data Distribution from the Solar Dynamics Observatory to the World abstract.

An approximately 30 minute presentation from a recent research/education networking conference: High Res 1280x720 - Low Res 640x360.

Only the last 10 minutes or so are the data/network details, the rest is pretty interesting general sun and SDO stuff.

Some numbers for the SDO:

2 imaging systems of 16 megapixel resolution taking 2400 and 1900 images per hour 24x7x365 (minus the ~20 hours out of the year that the earth is in the way).

Downlink at 130 Mb/s and in the hands of space-weather forecasters in about 5 minutes. After more processing out to scientists and the public in about 3 days.

Collecting about 2 PB/yr onto 1PB of disk (currently with 3.4PB off-loaded to tape backup). Rather constant stream of 30-40 MB of data being sent out to the world: 2 TB/d to tier-1 distibution centers/mirrors, 0.5 TB/d via the SDO web site.
posted by zengargoyle at 7:35 AM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Hydrogen-alpha filters used for these pictures give much better results, but are not cheap.

Woah, out the milky-way in that wavelength. Crazyness.

Also, reading about that Vela Pulsar. It's a supernova shell 230 light years across... and 800 light years away. Apparently it only happened 11k years ago. It must have been quite a sight here on earth.
posted by delmoi at 2:53 PM on March 18, 2012


Oh, here are the multi-colored images, if you like. 36 different hues of a solar image by Alan Friedman. He has copyrighted this image, but it is freely available as a desktop wallpaper. I hope he doesn't mind if more colors are available. If you download this, think happy thoughts for Mr. Friedman.
posted by nemp at 11:40 AM on March 19, 2012


« Older Sarah Fimm wants to inspire people to use their cr...  |  "If it were just the NCAA tour... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments