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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs