More beholden to magnetism than gravity
February 21, 2013 10:48 AM   Subscribe

I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be set to godawful electronic music and posted to YouTube, like fiery looping rain on the Sun.
posted by yoink at 10:54 AM on February 21, 2013 [10 favorites]

Stars are incredible.
posted by Chutzler at 11:17 AM on February 21, 2013

The video, I should add, is absolutely stunning. The scale of this is just mind-boggling.
posted by yoink at 11:32 AM on February 21, 2013

That was just amazing. I was wondering if it was sped up or slowed down, so I checked the linked article. Slate says, "This video represents a total elapsed time of over nine hours." But I think they goofed. If you look at the text in the youtube description, "SDO collected one frame every 12 seconds, and the movie plays at 30 frames per second, so each second in this video corresponds to 6 minutes of real time. The video covers 12:30 a.m. EDT to 10:00 p.m. EDT on July 19, 2012." That's not 9.5 hours, that's 21.5 hours.

Anyway, none of that is terribly important. That was one damn cool video!
posted by funkiwan at 12:04 PM on February 21, 2013

Sol is the life bringer, the shining star that feeds our planet, which in turn feeds us. It clothes in its warmth, nurturing our growth for thousands of years. We are children, composed of a few pounds of chemicals and gallons of water, suckling on the warm nipples of fiery explosions from distances that are incomprehensible to our minds. Yet same distance can be bridged in only eight minutes by Sol.

Thank God we're far enough away from the damn thing so it doesn't kill us.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:05 PM on February 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

Simply beautiful.
posted by arkham_inmate_0801 at 12:28 PM on February 21, 2013

I was entranced by the pretty light show, but I'll admit that it was only when the Earth faded in as a size reference that I registered the scale of what was going on, and was completely blown away.

As far as I can work out*, these gobs of plasma that look like they're a few thousand kilometers across are travelling along these beautiful arcs at somewhere between 60 and 190 kilometers/second.

Gosh. This whole video is well into the territory where my ability to think about it seriously has shut down, and it it gets handled by the "OK, but this is obviously just science fiction" module. Simply incredible.

*When I started looking, the inside of the loop is ~5 earths high, and the plasma streams were taking ~3 seconds to get from the bottom of the loop straight down (at least, straight as seen from this camera angle) to the surface of the sun. The description says each second of video is six minutes of real time.

So assuming a straight path: (5x(earth's diameter))/(3x6minutes) = (5 x 12,756)/(3 x 6 x 60) = 59km/s.

Alternatively, if we assume that the apparently straight lines are actually travelling in an arc that describes a quarter of a circle, they're travelling (2*pi*((5*12756)/2)) = 200373.9km, for a speed of 186km/s.

This is a horrible calculation ("about 5 earths tall" being a rather vague measurement even by a biologist's standards), but I think it'll be in the right staggeringly huge ballpark.

posted by metaBugs at 12:58 PM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Galileo got some stick back in the 1600s for claiming that sunspots were actually on the sun, thus marring "the unchanging perfection of the heavens posited by orthodox Aristotelian celestial physics". And I'll admit that I used to think of the sun as pretty much a perfect sphere with just the odd blotch on it. The last few decades of solar research have blow that away completely.

(Also, there was debate over whether sunspots were actually on the sun or just objects rotating around the sun that passed in front of its disc. Galileo made a nice little argument with triangles to prove that they actually were on the sun.)

Also also, I love NASA.
posted by benito.strauss at 1:33 PM on February 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

The scale of this is just mind-boggling.

Yeah, I was thinking ... so ... that's a looping fireball the size of Saturn. ... !!

Awesome is right.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:34 PM on February 21, 2013

I think it would be just a little bit better if they slowed it down juuust a little. And got new music.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:36 PM on February 21, 2013

The Sun seriously scares the shit out of me. I can not look at large images of it or even video because I immediately get the willies. It is the same thing with Jupiter or any planet. It terrifies me to think that there is this massive gas ball screaming in darkness for the past millions of years. And then we have the Sun...

I was playing with the Universe Sandbox some time last week. I hit some button or other on the keyboard and the camera quickly zoomed across the solar system and did a close up of the sun. A defeated whimper came out of me; I was unmanned to my core. My SO had to alt+f4 the program for me because I simply could not do anything near that screen.

Yet, I am still fascinated and in love with Space.
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 2:15 PM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Think of it like a big, nuclear campfire, Our Ship. Fusion is our friend!*

* At sufficiently large distances.
posted by Malor at 2:55 PM on February 21, 2013

OurShip, I don't know if learning more would calm you down or freak you further out, but we know all kinds of stuff about the structure and processes of the sun, and it's just amazing. Here's a pdf that has a great overview (interior, photosphere, chromosphere, corona) and interesting facts (the Sun is losing mass at the rate of 5 million tons per second). It looks like it's part of a curriculum that I'm going to read more of.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:15 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

That was simply stunning and also terrifying.
posted by arcticseal at 6:16 AM on March 2, 2013

I skimmed the links but didn't see an answer: where was that filmed from? It couldn't be on Earth--since any location would have rotated out of view of the Sun--but where would a spacecraft/satellite be positioned so the camera frame wouldn't have moved that whole time?
posted by psoas at 10:36 AM on March 2, 2013

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