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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid