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Topic: Nanoflares

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 Sounding Rocket finds signatures of Tiny Solar Flares

 

Written by Sarah Frazier
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Like most solar sounding rockets, the second flight of the FOXSI instrument – short for Focusing Optics X-ray Solar Imager – lasted 15 minutes, with just six minutes of data collection. But in that short time, the cutting-edge instrument found the best evidence to date of a phenomenon scientists have been seeking for years: signatures of tiny solar flares that could help explain the mysterious extreme heating of the Sun’s outer atmosphere. 

FOXSI detected a type of light called hard X-rays – whose wavelengths are much shorter than the light humans can see – which is a signature of extremely hot solar material, around 18 million degrees Fahrenheit.

The NASA-funded FOXSI instrument captured new evidence of small solar flares, called nanoflares, during its December 2014 flight on a suborbital sounding rocket. Nanoflares could help explain why the Sun’s atmosphere, the corona, is so much hotter than the surface. Here, FOXSI’s observations of hard X-rays are shown in blue, superimposed over a soft X-ray image of the Sun from JAXA and NASA’s Hinode solar-observing satellite. (JAXA/NASA/Hinode/FOXSI)

The NASA-funded FOXSI instrument captured new evidence of small solar flares, called nanoflares, during its December 2014 flight on a suborbital sounding rocket. Nanoflares could help explain why the Sun’s atmosphere, the corona, is so much hotter than the surface. Here, FOXSI’s observations of hard X-rays are shown in blue, superimposed over a soft X-ray image of the Sun from JAXA and NASA’s Hinode solar-observing satellite. (JAXA/NASA/Hinode/FOXSI)

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NASA looks into the mystery of the Sun’s Nanoflares

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – When you attach the prefix “nano” to something, it usually means “very small.” Solar flares appear to be the exception.

Researchers are studying a type of explosion on the sun called a ‘nanoflare.’  A billion times less energetic than ordinary flares, nanoflares have a power that belies their name.

“A typical ‘nanoflare’ has the same energy as 240 megatons of TNT,” says physicist David Smith of UC Santa Cruz. “That would be something like 10,000 atomic fission bombs.”

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NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) takes High-Energy X-Ray of our Sun

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – For the first time, a mission designed to set its eyes on black holes and other objects far from our solar system has turned its gaze back closer to home, capturing images of our sun.

NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, has taken its first picture of the sun, producing the most sensitive solar portrait ever taken in high-energy X-rays.

“NuSTAR will give us a unique look at the sun, from the deepest to the highest parts of its atmosphere,” said David Smith, a solar physicist and member of the NuSTAR team at University of California, Santa Cruz.

X-rays stream off the sun in this image showing observations from by NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, overlaid on a picture taken by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC)

X-rays stream off the sun in this image showing observations from by NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, overlaid on a picture taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC)

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NASA’s FOXSI X-Ray Telescope ready to launch in November

 

Written by Karen Fox
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Those who watch the sun are regularly treated to brilliant shows – dancing loops of solar material rise up, dark magnetic regions called sunspots twist across the surface, and dazzling flares of light and radiation explode into space. But there are smaller, barely visible events, too: much smaller and more frequent eruptions called nanoflares.

Depending on how many and how energetic these are, nanoflares may be the missing piece of the puzzle to help understand what seeds the cascade that causes a much bigger flare, or to explain how the sun transfers so much energy to its atmosphere that it’s actually hotter than the surface.

Looking down the telescope tube on FOXSI ­ the Focusing Optics X-ray Solar Imager ­ reveals state-of-the-art optics that will help focus hard x-rays, which usually simply pass right through telescope mirrors. (Credit: NASA/S. Christe)

Looking down the telescope tube on FOXSI ­ the Focusing Optics X-ray Solar Imager ­ reveals state-of-the-art optics that will help focus hard x-rays, which usually simply pass right through telescope mirrors. (Credit: NASA/S. Christe)

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