News / Science & Technology

NASA Telescope Spots Solar Braids

NASA's High Resolution Coronal Imager, or Hi-C, telescope captured the highest-resolution images ever taken of the sun's million-degree atmosphere, the corona.
NASA's High Resolution Coronal Imager, or Hi-C, telescope captured the highest-resolution images ever taken of the sun's million-degree atmosphere, the corona.
Suzanne Presto
Five or 10 minutes is not a long time when it comes to a NASA mission, but it was long enough for NASA's High Resolution Coronal Imager, or Hi-C, telescope to capture the sharpest images ever taken of the sun's scorching atmosphere.
 
The sun's surface is about 5,000 degrees Celsius, but its atmosphere can be millions of degrees hotter.  Scientists, including Hi-C mission principal investigator Jonathan Cirtain, are working to figure out what energy source is heating the solar atmosphere.  
 
"This high temperature atmosphere is where space weather is initiated and where energetic events like flares and coronal mass ejections can originate," Cirtain told reporters during a NASA teleconference.  "So understanding the energy supply for the corona has implications across the stellar structure and heliophysics, in general."

Watch video of Hi-C's observations of the sun (Courtesy: NASA)
 
NASA launched a suborbital rocket carrying the telescope last July.  Hi-C snapped 165 images of an active region in the sun's corona, and the telescope could see features in the solar atmosphere that were only 150-kilometers across.  
 
NASA says that is the equivalent of spotting a coin from six kilometers away.    
 
The new images show magnetic loops that twist around each other to resemble braids, and when the braids unravel, there are simultaneous increases in energy emission.  This supports a theory developed 30 years ago that the magnetic field could be supplying the energy that fuels solar flares and coronal mass ejections.
 
An astrophysicist at the Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center in California, Karel Schrijver, said solar storms have an effect in space and on Earth. 
 
"Our society is increasingly dependent on space technology for navigation and communication, and we can't even imagine living without electricity," said Schrijver.  "Yet, the largest of these solar storms could cause enormous problems and may damage large parts of the power grid or disable the navigation systems." 
 
NASA astrophysicist Cirtain, who is based at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama, says he would like to see a satellite version of the Hi-C telescope.  He says scientists' ability to forecast space weather could mitigate solar storms' economic and societal impacts.
 
The Hi-C findings are published in the journal Nature.   
 

You May Like

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Mehdi from: Somewhere
January 27, 2013 1:26 PM
I want to say thanks NASA this suns picture is fantastic.I respect your knowledge.with best regard a friend from milk way.


by: paschal malimi from: tanzania africa
January 25, 2013 9:41 AM
North Korea seemingly irresponsible conduct is fueled by abject poverty in the midst of well to do countries~ the likes of Japan, S. Korea. Taiwan and recently China

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid