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
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
When our sun was young, it was a very nasty star that erupted with “superflares” and blowtorched the inner solar system with powerful solar winds. Fortunately, the sun finally grew up and mellowed, reaching the calm(er) state it is now. Continue reading Earth’s Magnetism Saved It From Solar Sterilization
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
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