Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Lovely Loops of Solar Tornadoes

Photo: Blossoming Promise, Courtesy of SDO and NASA
If you haven't been keeping up with NASA lately, you really should check out the Goddard Space Flight Center's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). It's an amazing ongoing research project designed to measure the properties of the Sun and solar activity and record its affects upon Earth. Their findings are all published and easily readable online, but what excites me most are the fantastic images they post daily of the Sun's surface. There are even action videos posted through YouTube as well. Check out The Lovely Loops Video:

I was also very excited to learn that this project is headed by a woman, Elizabeth Citrin. You can read all about her and the rest of the SDO team here.

The scientific goals of the SDO Project, taken directly from the NASA SDO site, are to improve understanding of the following seven questions:

  1. What mechanisms drive the quasi-periodic 11-year cycle of solar activity?
  2. How is active region magnetic flux synthesized, concentrated, and dispersed across the solar surface?
  3. How does magnetic reconnection on small scales reorganize the large-scale field topology and current systems and how significant is it in heating the corona and accelerating the solar wind?
  4. Where do the observed variations in the Sun's EUV spectral irradiance arise, and how do they relate to the magnetic activity cycles?
  5. What magnetic field configurations lead to the CMEs, filament eruptions, and flares that produce energetic particles and radiation?
  6. Can the structure and dynamics of the solar wind near Earth be determined from the magnetic field configuration and atmospheric structure near the solar surface?
  7. When will activity occur, and is it possible to make accurate and reliable forecasts of space weather and climate?
Though I'm glad they are trying to understand all of this, I'm most thrilled that they are willing to share all of their fantastic images online! 

In other exciting news, a new free online YA Sci/fi Fantasy fiction project I'm working on, The Ravens Crossing, is now partnering with the YA LGBT Books Group on Goodreads. I am very proud to be a part of promoting safe spaces and good reading for young adults! 

1 comment:

Andi said...

I just love those loops! :)