This is Your Brain On Awesome Thoughts on the world from a student of the mind

2Mar/11

The Sun just tried to punch us

As we've all learned before, the sun is a terrifying beast of energy and magnetic fields that often likes to throw superheated particles, plasma, and many other anti-earth things in our direction.  Well, NASA is hard at work at imaging this gigantic beast, and they managed to capture a doosie of a video.

What you see is a 90 minute time lapse of one of the sun's famed "solar flares."  Essentially, this is what happens when a particular area on the sun undergoes a rapid change in the orientation of its magnetic fields.  As a result, an enormous amount of energy is expelled in the form of a giant arc of plasma.

These solar flares can do all kinds of strange things like mess with telecommunications and the earth's magnetic field.  The really big ones can even have strong effects on the earth's surface, such as  in 1859, when a giant coronal mass ejection resulted in several telegraph poles bursting into flames.

No one is sure what exactly causes these huge fluctuations in activity, although areas of the sun that are generally more active do tend to have a larger number of flares.  One thing is for certain though, they are fascinating, beautiful, and a force to be reckoned with.

via NASA.gov

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