Category Archives: Sun

Protoplanetary Disk Could Reveal Planetary Abortion

TW Hydrae is a young star sporting a beautiful protoplanetary disk that is almost perfectly face-on from our perspective. Within that disk, dark tracks have captivated astronomers who believe they hold clues to the earliest stages of planetary formation. In short, TW Hydrae is a stellar “petri dish,” only 175 light-years away, showing us exactly where baby planets come from. Continue reading Protoplanetary Disk Could Reveal Planetary Abortion

Sleepy Sun’s Heart-Shaped Sunspot Erupts

A huge, heart-shaped sunspot shot off a strong solar flare Sunday evening (April 26), temporarily disrupting radio communications here on Earth.

The flare erupted at 8:29 p.m. EDT Sunday (0029 GMT on Monday) from a giant sunspot known as active region (AR) 2529, which is currently big enough to fit nearly five Earths inside it. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft captured amazing video of the solar flare as it happened. Continue reading Sleepy Sun’s Heart-Shaped Sunspot Erupts

Visualizing Our Sun’s Messy Magnetic Mystery

Some of the greatest cosmic mysteries are closer to home than you may think.

Take our sun: it is the energy source for all life on Earth and it generates powerful flares and coronal mass ejections that energize interplanetary space, igniting beautiful aurorae at high latitudes on our planet. However, the sun has a perplexingly hot atmosphere that, until recently, we had little idea as to how it was heated. Now, with the help of complex computer simulations supporting sophisticated observations, these long-standing mysteries are slowly beginning to unravel. Continue reading Visualizing Our Sun’s Messy Magnetic Mystery

MAVEN Mission Reveals Speed of Solar Wind Stripping Martian Atmosphere

Data from NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission has revealed the speed at which solar winds are stripping away the Martian atmosphere. NASA scientists believe the process likely played a key role in helping Mars transition from an early, warm and wet environment to the cold, arid planet Mars is today. Continue reading MAVEN Mission Reveals Speed of Solar Wind Stripping Martian Atmosphere