Here’s What We Learned About Pluto Today

Three days after New Horizons‘ flight through the Pluto system and the data is coming in fast and furious (albeit quite highly compressed!), giving scientists a virtual “toy box” of new findings to make about these distant worlds’ exotic nature. On Wednesday we got our first looks at Pluto’s 11,000-foot-high mountains, now informally named Norgay…

Jupiter’s Moons Make Ghostly Auroral “Footprints”

We have all marveled at incredible photos and time-lapse videos of Earth’s auroral displays, captured by talented photographers that have braved the frigid nighttime temperatures of remote high-latitude locations as well as by those privileged few living in orbit aboard the International Space Station. But our planet isn’t the only one with curtains of light crowning its…

Our Sun is Awesome

It really is. I mean, nevermind that it comprises over 99% of all the mass in our solar system, that it supplies our planet with the energy needed to sustain life on its surface, that its constantly-blowing solar wind helps keep some of those nasty cosmic particles out of the planetary neighborhood, and that it…

Shocking News About Saturn’s Moon

Scientists have uncovered a shocking surprise about Saturn’s ice-spewing satellite Enceladus: the little 318-mile-wide moon creates a loop of electrically-charged particles that run from its north and south poles all the way up and over to Saturn’s north and south poles, forming a giant electron beam connecting the gas planet and its icy moon. Where the…

Flare Up

I caught this image this morning on the SDO site…it shows an eruption of plasma from the Sun’s photosphere that stretches out several tens of thousands of miles…the hooked loop at the end could easily encircle the entire Earth! This image is from about 11am or so, within a couple of hours the structure had…

Pillar of Fire

Ok it’s not fire, it’s plasma, but it’s nevertheless a wonderful image by space photographer Alan Friedman showing a coronal ejection towering over 200,000 miles above the surface of the sun. It was taken on July 27, 2010. Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) occur when particularly large magnetic loops filled with plasma “snap” and expel their…