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The Sun
October 13, 2008 8:33 PM   Subscribe

The Sun

(via chrismear's Twitter feed)
posted by grouse (49 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite

 
The comet losing it's plasma tail is pretty amazing.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:39 PM on October 13, 2008


... is a mass of incandescent gas,
A gigantic nuclear furnace,
Where hydrogen is built into helium
At a temperature of millions of degrees.
posted by Caduceus at 8:40 PM on October 13, 2008 [11 favorites]


I was all set to snark but I leave in awe. Thanks for this.
posted by A dead Quaker at 8:42 PM on October 13, 2008


Bostons big picture is pretty great, check out earth from above.
posted by scodger at 8:42 PM on October 13, 2008 [4 favorites]


In all seriousness, though, what a cool page! Thanks for posting.
posted by Caduceus at 8:42 PM on October 13, 2008


All this, and it manages to write a great newspaper.
posted by sien at 8:50 PM on October 13, 2008


Very, very cool. I always thought the final scene from Sunshine* was more fantasy than reality, but these pictures show the environments were pretty on the mark.

* (starting at 5:10 -- I would have used Splicd, but embedding is disabled on that video.)
posted by Rhaomi at 8:50 PM on October 13, 2008


Mindblowing, truely-- I spent another twenty minutes reading up on the details of the sun after viewing those magnetic structures.

And to think, we're trying to achieve something similar to that with JET and the upcoming ITER.

Amazing.
posted by Static Vagabond at 8:54 PM on October 13, 2008


Picture 20 is from this video.
posted by homunculus at 9:01 PM on October 13, 2008


wow. Seriously amazing. Those are the most intense photographs of the sun I've ever seen. Somehow they convey its power and magnitude.

I love the "Detailed closeup of magnetic structures on the Sun's surface" image. This one looks like a scary eye.

Adding to the sunniness, two of my faves: Fifth song down in Space Songs, Why does the Sun Shine l Walking on Sunshine.
posted by nickyskye at 9:12 PM on October 13, 2008


President Lindberg: Steadert.
General Staedert: Yes Sir!

President Lindberg: I have a doubt.
General Staedert: I don't, Mr. President.

posted by Science! at 9:16 PM on October 13, 2008


Or, y'know, some Swans.
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:17 PM on October 13, 2008


um...does it mean i'm a geek if i've seen all of these pictures before? 8\

it really is a monster, isn't it? it's basically a million-mile-wide ball of h-bombs thats been exploding for almost 5 billion years, and the only thing keeping it from going kablooie all over the place is its massive gravity.

my faves here are the ones from the swedish solar telescope (which uses a vibrating rubber mirror to counteract blurring from convection in the earth's atmosphere) and the ones from TRACE...the animations of flares and active regions on the trace website are uh-mazing...
posted by sexyrobot at 9:26 PM on October 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


People in Boston know about this thuing and they haven't declared it a terrorist threta yet? Wow. SOmeone should flash it on and off, they'd go crazy.
posted by Artw at 9:41 PM on October 13, 2008 [4 favorites]


Awesome photos. Also, I wanted to squeeze the spots on the Sun.
posted by illiad at 9:42 PM on October 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


The cell-like appearance is formed by the multitude of small clusters of magnetic flux that are collected in the downflow regions of the supergranular network of convective motions.

I've been telling them that for years!
posted by cowbellemoo at 9:42 PM on October 13, 2008


Thanks - with all the election talk and economy worries, it's sometimes good to be reminded of how insignificant we are on a cosmic scale (from the text of Photo 17 : "it blasts more than a billion tons of matter out into space at millions of kilometers per hour.")
posted by birdsquared at 9:51 PM on October 13, 2008


Wow, those are some fantastic visualizations. I'm especially struck by the imaging of magnetic structure, which I had never seen before.
posted by Galvatron at 10:06 PM on October 13, 2008


Delightful post - great antidote to the economic and political shenanigans.
Thank you...
posted by speug at 10:14 PM on October 13, 2008


They usually hang out in the cold, distant regions of the solar system, but occasionally a gravitational tug from a planet....

While I hang our in front of a 7-11
posted by mattoxic at 10:24 PM on October 13, 2008


The "H-alpha wavelength"? Are we still at war with the Krull? Where's A. E. van Voigt when you need him?

For us regular people, what's "H-alpha" in nanometers?
posted by GuyZero at 10:36 PM on October 13, 2008


Great post, thanks heaps.
posted by mattoxic at 10:37 PM on October 13, 2008


Oops, van Vogt. Spell check first, post second.
posted by GuyZero at 10:37 PM on October 13, 2008


Really great. Thank you so much!
posted by dsword at 10:37 PM on October 13, 2008


For us regular people, what's "H-alpha" in nanometers?

656.281 nm.
posted by grouse at 10:50 PM on October 13, 2008


Awesome stuff. Thank you for posting it.

The part about solar winds being their lowest in 50 years makes me grin. How long have we been measuring that particular datum?

About 50 years, I think.
posted by codswallop at 11:23 PM on October 13, 2008


Great images...but the comments section on that page starts getting a bit fucking weird towards the bottom...
posted by Jimbob at 11:29 PM on October 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh. That sun. But a Page 3 Lovely nonetheless.
posted by grounded at 12:01 AM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Better than Sunn 0)))

Beautiful, actually. Thanks.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 12:15 AM on October 14, 2008


50. Maybe Bill Belichick ate the sun spots
by Anonymous October 13, 08 05:02 PM


It is true, Bill Belichick IS fat.
posted by basicchannel at 12:19 AM on October 14, 2008


Beautiful. Thank you.
posted by nicolin at 12:30 AM on October 14, 2008


What's you favorite planet?

Mine's the Sun. Always has been. It's like the King of planets.

/Harry Caray.
posted by clearly at 1:12 AM on October 14, 2008


Awesome stuff. And it didn't even include this one, which remains just about one of the awesomest pictures ever.
posted by flashboy at 1:19 AM on October 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


This movie, Sunshine. I missed it. I checked out IMDB, and found no mention of Heinlein, who I believe wrote the original story. Am I mistaken? I know I read such a tale, right down to a different version of the closing lines ("I come back to you, in the sunshine").

The photos are, literally, awesome. I hope we learn to bottle that stuff up!
posted by Goofyy at 5:00 AM on October 14, 2008


Flashboy, I was just coming to link that; glad to see someone else has seen that one. Great post, grouse!.
posted by TedW at 5:06 AM on October 14, 2008


Not to be forgotten, the Big Picture is by metafilter's own kokogiak.
posted by cashman at 6:36 AM on October 14, 2008


Ra Ra Ra!
posted by erpava at 6:58 AM on October 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


What a welcome retreat from all the politics and financial doom and gloom. Great post.
posted by caddis at 7:43 AM on October 14, 2008


Picture 16 misidentifies this prominence (or filament) eruption that actually happened on 19 July 2000, and from the caption you'd never know how really really interesting a shot it is. I used to work on the TRACE mission, so I've spent a lot of time looking at pictures like these and this event happens to be an all-time favorite of mine because it provides a really dramatic example of how important a role magnetic fields play in the dynamics of the solar corona.

Somewhere I have a movie version of that photo, but I can't find it. But here's a movie of a very similar event from 27 May 2002. What's happening in both the picture and the movie is that stress on a coil of magnetic field (what people call a magnetic flux rope) causes it to suddenly kink, not unlike what happens when you really twist up a rope. In some cases, the lines of magnetic field will literally break, leading to a topological reconfiguration (which is called magnetic reconnection) and, probably, a solar flare. But here, there's no reconnection, so we don't get a flare.

Instead, all this million degree plasma gets flung up into the corona. Some of the plasma attached to this field gets heated up in the process, which is what causes it to brighten. As this plasma cools, it condenses and drops out of the satellite's passband, so it disappears. The most dense condensations are opaque, and show up as the dark blobs in the movie and picture.

All this plasma is stuck to lines of magnetic field like beads on a wire, so, with nowhere else to go, it drains back down the legs of these loops of magnetic field. In the movie you can see really clearly how the stuff isn't just falling straight down, it's flowing along field lines.

When these things manage to reconnect and break free, you get a filament eruption and all this material gets flung out into space in a coronal mass ejection. But here, since it doesn't reconnect, you just get a series of loops that kink, heat up, and cool off. This is kind of analogous to the water cycle on earth, so people sometimes call the material draining down these loops coronal rain.

Anyway, I just thought it might be nice to provide a little context for a cool photo that had a pretty boring description on the Globe's website.

Solar physics doesn't have the glamor of planetary science of cosmology, so it's cool to see the Sun get the Big Picture treatment. Thanks for posting these photos.
posted by dseaton at 8:00 AM on October 14, 2008 [13 favorites]


> Very, very cool. I always thought the final scene from Sunshine* was more fantasy than reality, but these pictures show the environments were pretty on the mark.

I really, really wanted to love Sunshine, and I did until the filmmakers decided to turn it into a slasher flick. As it was, I still liked it, but it would have been a lot better without the human villain...the danger posed by the mission itself should have been enough suspense on its own.

Great post!
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:25 AM on October 14, 2008


Man, I could just worship that thing...
posted by Mister_A at 11:04 AM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thanks for that dseaton...

And yes the comments get very strange as you go down, but one shines brightly:

"Susan, I appreciate your enthusiasm for science, but in reality these are the gifts that H has bestowed on us all. H really makes the ultimate sacrifice in this case, and He is a by-product."

In the context of "His great works", "He" made me chuckle.
posted by salishsea at 11:07 AM on October 14, 2008


You're going to need a bigger Big Picture.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:31 PM on October 14, 2008


The 5th picture is so Russian avant-garde.
posted by ersatz at 4:50 PM on October 14, 2008


Fantastic photos! Thank you for the lovely post.
posted by Minus215Cee at 8:35 PM on October 14, 2008


Awesome, but how come there's no photos of the sun at night?
posted by robotot at 10:33 PM on October 14, 2008


My mother always told me not to look directly at the sun. But now that I've just looked at it, the sun doesn't seem so bad.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:25 AM on October 15, 2008


Enceladus up close
posted by homunculus at 1:08 AM on October 25, 2008


My mother always told me not to look directly at the sun.

But momma, that's where the fun is...
posted by TedW at 9:17 AM on October 25, 2008


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