Planet Nine May Have Once Been an Exoplanet

It hasn’t even been found yet (they’re still working on that) but the recently-announced Planet Nine is already spurring discussion amongst the world’s astronomers. One of the recent topics surrounding this alleged new planet is (again, besides where it’s hiding) how it formed and how it got into the incredibly distant orbit it’s thought to be…

Supplement Your Day With This Calcium Image of the Sun

Our Sun may be made up of 98% hydrogen and helium but the remaining two percent comprises many other elements, detectable by their unique absorption lines within the gamut of white light we receive on Earth. One of those elements is calcium, which exists in ionized form in relatively tiny amounts in the Sun’s chromosphere…

What is a Neutron Star, Anyway?

Neutron stars are strange cosmic beasts. Stellar corpses that are several times the mass of our Sun but only about the width of Manhattan, they can contain a mountain’s worth of star-stuff within the space of a sugar cube, creating all sorts of weird physics that requires funny-sounding names like “quark-gluon plasma” to even try to describe what’s…

The Sun is Awesome

It really is. I mean, nevermind that it contains 99% of all the mass in the Solar System, that it supplies our planet with the energy needed to sustain life, that its constantly-blowing solar wind helps keep some of those nasty cosmic particles out of the planetary neighborhood, and that it makes a bright sunshiny…

A Backyard View of a Solar Prominence

An enormous tree-shaped prominence spreads its “branches” tens of thousands of miles above the Sun’s photosphere in this image, a section of a photo acquired in hydrogen alpha (Ha) by Alan Friedman last week from his backyard in Buffalo, NY. Writes Alan on his blog, “gotta love a sunny day in November!” Check out the full image…

A Tall Tale of a Prominent Figure

Taken on July 29, 2010, this hydrogen-alpha-light photo by Alan Friedman shows a delicate, wispy solar prominence stretching more than 200,000 miles from the Sun’s limb… nearly as far as the distance from Earth to the Moon! This photo was taken with Alan’s backyard telescope from his location in Buffalo, NY. Many of his solar photos…

Sun Pass

Astronomy hobbyist and solar photographer extraordinaire Alan Friedman captured a wonderful image of the International Space Station transiting the edge of the Sun’s disc during a Winter Star Party in Florida on March 1, 2011. Taken with a solar telescope that images the Sun in hydrogen alpha light, the image above clearly shows the ISS…

Active region is active.

Active region 1163-1164 kept the show going this morning, February 27 2011, with a large coronal mass ejection (CME) that erupted at around 4:30am EST from the Sun’s western limb. The animation above was made from ten high-resolution images taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory, and shows this particular flare in action. (Click the image…

Flare Out

Today at 7:35 UT, hours before the final Discovery shuttle launch, the Sun had a launch of its own: an M3-class solar flare spewed a giant plume of material hundreds of thousands of miles into space. Luckily this ejection was not facing Earth at the time, but the active region responsible is gradually rotating into…

Monster Sun

Everyone’s abuzz about what SDO is watching this morning: a huge solar prominence and filament wrapping partway around the southwestern hemisphere of the Sun, literally hundreds of thousands of miles long! This is a section of the latest image from SDO’s Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) 304 camera, which best captures details about the sun’s outer…

A Sinuous Strand

Featured on the Solar Dynamics Observatory’s Pick of the Week, this image from the observatory’s AIA 304 camera shows a gigantic filament snaking around the Sun’s southern hemisphere, hundreds of thousands of miles of magnetically-contained plasma made visible in extreme ultraviolet light. Filaments are bands of relatively cooler, denser solar material caught up in magnetic…

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…