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Topic: Corona

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory sees First Nanoflare on the Sun

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA reports that researchers may have found the long-sought “nanoflares” thought to heat the solar corona to its incredible temperatures.

A new study published in Nature Astronomy marks the first time researchers have captured the full lifecycle of a putative nanoflare – from bright origins to blistering demise.

Nanoflares are tiny eruptions on the Sun, one-billionth the size of normal solar flares. Eugene Parker – of Parker Solar Probe fame – first predicted them in 1972 to solve a major puzzle: the coronal heating problem.

A close-up of one of the loop brightenings studied in the article. Each inset frame zooms in to the selected region in the frame to its left. The frame on the far right is the most zoomed in, showing the putative nanoflare. (NASA/SDO/IRIS/Shah Bahauddin)

A close-up of one of the loop brightenings studied in the article. Each inset frame zooms in to the selected region in the frame to its left. The frame on the far right is the most zoomed in, showing the putative nanoflare. (NASA/SDO/IRIS/Shah Bahauddin)

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NASA’s SOFIA Telescope observes Magnetic Fields affecting Middle of Milky Way Galaxy

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – The area around the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy is dominated by gravity, but it’s not the only force at play. According to new research from NASA’s airborne telescope, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, magnetic fields may be strong enough to control material moving around the black hole. 

The research, presented this week at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society, could help answer longstanding mysteries about why our black hole is relatively quiet compared to others, and why the formation of new stars in our galaxy’s core is lower than expected. 

A composite image of the central region of our Milky Way galaxy, known as Sagittarius A. SOFIA found that magnetic fields, shown as streamlines, are strong enough to control the material moving around the black hole, even in the presence of enormous gravitational forces. (NASA/SOFIA/L. Proudfit; ESA/Herschel; Hubble Space Telescope)

A composite image of the central region of our Milky Way galaxy, known as Sagittarius A. SOFIA found that magnetic fields, shown as streamlines, are strong enough to control the material moving around the black hole, even in the presence of enormous gravitational forces. (NASA/SOFIA/L. Proudfit; ESA/Herschel; Hubble Space Telescope)

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NASA’s Parker Solar Probe discovers new insights about our Sun

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – In August 2018, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe launched to space, soon becoming the closest-ever spacecraft to the Sun. With cutting-edge scientific instruments to measure the environment around the spacecraft, Parker Solar Probe has completed three of 24 planned passes through never-before-explored parts of the Sun’s atmosphere, the corona.

On December 4th, 2019, four new papers in the journal Nature describe what scientists have learned from this unprecedented exploration of our star — and what they look forward to learning next.

Illustration of Parker Solar Probe. (NASA/Johns Hopkins APL)

Illustration of Parker Solar Probe. (NASA/Johns Hopkins APL)

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NASA studies Dust in our Solar System

 

Written by Lina Tran
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Just as dust gathers in corners and along bookshelves in our homes, dust piles up in space too. But when the dust settles in the solar system, it’s often in rings. Several dust rings circle the Sun. The rings trace the orbits of planets, whose gravity tugs dust into place around the Sun, as it drifts by on its way to the center of the solar system.

The dust consists of crushed-up remains from the formation of the solar system, some 4.6 billion years ago — rubble from asteroid collisions or crumbs from blazing comets.

In this illustration, several dust rings circle the Sun. These rings form when planets’ gravities tug dust grains into orbit around the Sun. Recently, scientists have detected a dust ring at Mercury’s orbit. Others hypothesize the source of Venus’ dust ring is a group of never-before-detected co-orbital asteroids. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Mary Pat Hrybyk-Keith)

In this illustration, several dust rings circle the Sun. These rings form when planets’ gravities tug dust grains into orbit around the Sun. Recently, scientists have detected a dust ring at Mercury’s orbit. Others hypothesize the source of Venus’ dust ring is a group of never-before-detected co-orbital asteroids. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Mary Pat Hrybyk-Keith)

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NASA’s NICER instrument discovers Black Hole consuming nearby Star

 

Written by Jeanette Kazmierczak
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Scientists have charted the environment surrounding a stellar-mass black hole that is 10 times the mass of the Sun using NASA’s Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) payload aboard the International Space Station.

NICER detected X-ray light from the recently discovered black hole, called MAXI J1820+070 (J1820 for short), as it consumed material from a companion star. Waves of X-rays formed “light echoes” that reflected off the swirling gas near the black hole and revealed changes in the environment’s size and shape.

In this illustration of a newly discovered black hole named MAXI J1820+070, a black hole pulls material off a neighboring star and into an accretion disk. Above the disk is a region of subatomic particles called the corona. (Aurore Simonnet and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

In this illustration of a newly discovered black hole named MAXI J1820+070, a black hole pulls material off a neighboring star and into an accretion disk. Above the disk is a region of subatomic particles called the corona. (Aurore Simonnet and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

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NASA’s Parker Solar Probe navigation controlled by Jet Propulsion Laboratory

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The navigation for NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is led by the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, which also has a role in two of the spacecraft’s four onboard instrument suites. Parker Solar Probe will fly closer to the Sun than any previous spacecraft and through the solar corona itself.

One instrument, called the Energetic Particle Instrument-Hi (EPI-Hi), will investigate the mysteries of high-speed solar particles that hurtle toward Earth at close to the speed of light. Observations by the Parker Solar Probe will lead to better predictions of space weather and address fundamental mysteries about the Sun’s dynamic corona. EPI-Hi is part of the Integrated Science Investigation of the Sun, led by Principal Investigator David McComas of Princeton University in New Jersey.

Illustration of NASA's Parker Solar Probe approaching the Sun. (NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben)

Illustration of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe approaching the Sun. (NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben)

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NASA’s Parker Solar Probe launches tonight

 

Written by Miles Hatfield
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – At 2:33am CDT on August 11th, 2018 while most of the U.S. is asleep, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida will be abuzz with excitement. At that moment, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, the agency’s historic mission to touch the Sun, will have its first opportunity to lift off.

Launching from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, Parker Solar Probe will make its journey all the way to the Sun’s atmosphere, or corona — closer to the Sun than any spacecraft in history.

“Eight long years of hard work by countless engineers and scientists is finally paying off,” said Adam Szabo, the mission scientist for Parker Solar Probe at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

NASA's Parker Solar Probe will travel closer to the Sun than any spacecraft before it. (NASA/Johns Hopkins APL)

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe will travel closer to the Sun than any spacecraft before it. (NASA/Johns Hopkins APL)

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NASA’s Parker Solar Probe set to launch August 6th

 

Written by Sarah Frazier
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Early on an August morning, the sky near Cape Canaveral, Florida, will light up with the launch of Parker Solar Probe. No earlier than August 6th, 2018, a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy will thunder to space carrying the car-sized spacecraft, which will study the Sun closer than any human-made object ever has.

On July 20th, 2018, Nicky Fox, Parker Solar Probe’s project scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, Maryland, and Alex Young, associate director for science in the Heliophysics Science Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, introduced Parker Solar Probe’s science goals and the technology behind them at a televised press conference from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Illustration of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe leaving Earth. (NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben)

Illustration of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe leaving Earth. (NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben)

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NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, The Science Behind Why It Won’t Melt

 

Written by Susannah Darling
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – One key to understanding what keeps the spacecraft and its instruments safe, is understanding the concept of heat versus temperature. Counterintuitively, high temperatures do not always translate to actually heating another object.

In space, the temperature can be thousands of degrees without providing significant heat to a given object or feeling hot. Why? Temperature measures how fast particles are moving, whereas heat measures the total amount of energy that they transfer. Particles may be moving fast (high temperature), but if there are very few of them, they won’t transfer much energy (low heat).

Illustration of NASA's Parker Solar Probe circling the Sun. (NASA/JHUAPL)

Illustration of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe circling the Sun. (NASA/JHUAPL)

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NASA’s Parker Solar Probe receives revolutionary Heat Shield

 

Written by Justyna Surowiec
NASA’s Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationLaurel, MD – The launch of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, the mission that will get closer to the Sun than any human-made object has ever gone, is quickly approaching, and on June 27th, 2018, Parker Solar Probe’s heat shield — called the Thermal Protection System, or TPS — was installed on the spacecraft.

A mission 60 years in the making, Parker Solar Probe will make a historic journey to the Sun’s corona, a region of the solar atmosphere. With the help of its revolutionary heat shield, now permanently attached to the spacecraft in preparation for its August 2018 launch, the spacecraft’s orbit will carry it to within 4 million miles of the Sun’s fiercely hot surface, where it will collect unprecedented data about the inner workings of the corona.

The Thermal Protection System connects to the custom-welded truss on the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft at six points to minimize heat conduction. (NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Ed Whitman)

The Thermal Protection System connects to the custom-welded truss on the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft at six points to minimize heat conduction. (NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Ed Whitman)

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