Solar Tsunami
Credit: Stereo Team; Nasa

Ring Around the Sun

Our "constant" sun is really more like a spherical sea of incredibly hot plasma, changing all the time. Astronomers like to keep a good eye on it, so no dramatic change goes by unnoticed. One amazing occurrence happened on Dec 7, 2007 and was seen by one of the two STEREO satellites. STEREO, as you recall, consists of a pair of satellites which observe the sun from different angles and allow astronomers to get a "3-D" view of the solar atmosphere and solar outflows. On December 7 one of the STEREO satellites captured a view (in the extreme ultraviolet part of the electromagnetic spectrum) of a Coronal Mass Ejection that released a huge amount of energy into the solar atmosphere, and a huge amount of matter into interplanetary space. A sort of atmospheric "sunquake". One result of this "sunquake" was the production of a giant wave rippling through almost the entire solar atmosphere. The image above shows a snapshot of this unbelievable wave, slightly enhanced for viewability. Don't miss the movie. What damps the wave?

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Each week the HEASARC brings you new, exciting and beautiful images from X-ray and Gamma ray astronomy. Check back each week and be sure to check out the HEAPOW archive!

Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Friday, 20-Apr-2012 15:26:05 EDT

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