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  • richardmitnick 2:08 pm on February 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "New data about spiral waves detected in sunspots", , , , , , Solar research   

    From Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias – IAC: “New data about spiral waves detected in sunspots” 

    IAC

    From Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias – IAC

    Jan. 18, 2019

    Tobías Felipe
    tobias@iac.es

    Elena Khomenko
    khomenko@iac.es

    An international study, led by researchers at the IAC, reveal unknown details about the nature of a singular type of oscillatory phenomenon in spiral form detected in sunspots. The research, published in Astronomy & Astrophysics, was carried out using observations with the GREGOR telescope at the Teide Observatory

    KIP telescope GREGOR, on Mount Teide at 2,390 metres (7,840 ft), located on Tenerife, Spain. It is operated by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias

    GREGOR Solar Telescope at Tiede Observatory on Mount Teide at 2,390 metres 7,840 ft, located on Tenerife, Spain. It is operated by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias

    Teide Observatory in Tenerife Spain, home of two 40 cm LCO,telescopes, Altitude 2,390 m (7,840 ft)

    1

    There are many oscillatory phenomena in the Sun which show up from the deepest interior layers to the outermost layers of its atmosphere. The study of these waves is a fundamental problema in solar physics. It is believed that the waves play a key role in the energy balance of our star; they are one of the candidates proposed to explain the high temperatures measured in the chromosphere and the corona of the sun. Also studying the oscillations is a way of characterizing the structure of the Sun using seismological analyses.

    Stars like the Sun show different types of waves. Some are acoustic waves, similar to those on Earth, which allow us to hear sound. However the presence of magnetic fields gives rise to new types of waves with different properties.

    A sudy led by researchers at the IAC and published recently , and picked out as a “highlight” by the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics [A&A above], has studied the propagation of these waves in sunspots and has identified the presence of oscillations in spiral form which start out from the darkest part of the sunspot, called the umbra, and spread into the outer regions, the penumbra. Sunspots are caused by strong concentrations of magnetic field, visible on the solar disc as dark regions, so that these waves can be interpreted as evidence for magneto-acoustic waves which propagate from the interior of the sun out to high layes of the atmosphere, along the direction of the magnetic field.

    This work has used data from the GREGOR telesope, at the Teide Observatory [above], which, with its diameter of 1.5 metres, is the biggest solar telescope in Europe. “ The possibility to use several instruments at a time with the GREGOR has allowed us to obtain the variations in velocity in a two dimensional region, and also a spectropolarimetric map of the sunspot observed” explains Tobías Felipe, the first author of the article, an IAC researcher. “The analysis of the polarization of the light is fundamental for the study of solar magnetic fields; we have been able to work out the geometry of the magnetic field of the sunspot, and relate its orientation to the apparent direction of propagation of the waves”.

    Although previous studies had identified the presence of spiral waves in sunspots, this new study permits the interpretation, for the first time, of these wafes in the contex of a full characterization of the topology of the magnetic field of the sunspot where they are observed. This has allowed us to reject the idea that the spiral is a consequence of the twisting of the magnetic field lines. “The new results suggest that this is the visual pattern of the waves which are propagated upwards from interior layers. Although apparently these waves move in the radial direction, towards the exterior of the spot, what actually happens is that in the outermost regions the front of waves arrive later to the atmospheric layer where they were observed”, says Elena Khomenko, a researcher at the IAC and a co-author of the study.

    This work was carried out in the framework of an international collaboration, in which there was participation by researchers from a German institution (Christoph Kuckein, Leibnitz Institut für Astrophysik, Potsdam) and an Israeli institution ( Irina Thaler, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem).

    See the full article here.


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

    The Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias(IAC) is an international research centre in Spain which comprises:

    The Instituto de Astrofísica, the headquarters, which is in La Laguna (Tenerife).
    The Centro de Astrofísica en La Palma (CALP)
    The Observatorio del Teide (OT), in Izaña (Tenerife).

    These centres, with all the facilities they bring together, make up the European Northern Observatory(ENO).

    The IAC is constituted administratively as a Public Consortium, created by statute in 1982, with involvement from the Spanish Government, the Government of the Canary Islands, the University of La Laguna and Spain’s Science Research Council (CSIC).

    The International Scientific Committee (CCI) manages participation in the observatories by institutions from other countries. A Time Allocation Committee (CAT) allocates the observing time reserved for Spain at the telescopes in the IAC’s observatories.

    The exceptional quality of the sky over the Canaries for astronomical observations is protected by law. The IAC’s Sky Quality Protection Office (OTPC) regulates the application of the law and its Sky Quality Group continuously monitors the parameters that define observing quality at the IAC Observatories.

    The IAC’s research programme includes astrophysical research and technological development projects.

    The IAC is also involved in researcher training, university teaching and outreachactivities.

    The IAC has devoted much energy to developing technology for the design and construction of a large 10.4 metre diameter telescope, the ( Gran Telescopio CANARIAS, GTC), which is sited at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos.

    Gran Telescopio Canarias at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the island of La Palma, in the Canaries, Spain, sited on a volcanic peak 2,267 metres (7,438 ft) above sea level

     
  • richardmitnick 10:05 am on February 21, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , Solar research   

    From European Space Agency via Manu Garcia, a friend from IAC: “The limits of the Earth’s atmosphere” 


    From Manu Garcia, a friend from IAC.

    The universe around us.
    Astronomy, everything you wanted to know about our local universe and never dared to ask.

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    From European Space Agency

    20 February, 2019

    Igor Baliukin
    Space Research Institute
    Russian Academy of Science
    Moscow, Russia
    Email: igor.baliukin@gmail.com

    Jean-Loup Bertaux
    Former principal investigator of SWAN
    Laboratoire Atmospheres Milieux, Observations Spatiales (LATMOS)
    Université de Versailles-Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, France
    Email: jean-loup.bertaux@latmos.ipsl.fr

    Bernhard Fleck
    SOHO project scientist
    European Space Agency
    Email: bfleck@esa.nascom.nasa.gov

    Markus Bauer
    ESA Science Program Communication Officer
    Tel: +31 71 565 6799
    Mob: +31 61 594 3 954
    Email: markus.bauer@esa.int

    Earth’s atmosphere reaches the Moon and beyond.
    1
    The extent of land geocorona. Where the atmosphere of the Earth merges with outer space, there is a cloud of hydrogen atoms called geocorona. A recent discovery based on observations of the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory ESA / NASA SOHO shows that geocorona extends far beyond the orbit of the Moon, reaching up to 630 000 km above the surface of the Earth, or 50 times the diameter of our planet. Note: The illustration is not to scale. Credit: ESA.

    The most distant region of our atmosphere extends beyond the lunar orbit, up to twice the distance to our natural satellite.

    Thanks to data collected by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) of ESA / NASA, a recent discovery shows that the gas layer that surrounds the Earth has a radius of 630,000 km, 50 times the diameter of our planet.

    ESA/NASA SOHO

    “The moon orbits inside the Earth’s atmosphere,” says Igor Baliukin, the Russian Space Research Institute and lead author of the paper presenting the results.

    “We were not aware of it until we recover the observations made over two decades ago by SOHO.”

    In the region where the atmosphere merges into the outer space, there is a cloud of hydrogen atoms called “geocorona”. One of the satellite instruments, SWAN [no image available], used its sensors to track the signing of hydrogen and accurately detect how far the limit of the geocorona arrived.

    These observations could be made only at certain times of the year when the Earth and its geocorona were visible instrument.

    In the planets with their exosferas hydrogen, water vapor often seen near the surface. This is what happens on Earth, Mars and Venus.

    Jean-Loup Bertaux as, former principal investigator and co-author SWAN explains: “This is particularly interesting when we look for planets with possible water deposits beyond our solar system.”

    The first telescope on the Moon, deployed in 1972 by the Apollo astronauts 16 mission captured an image reminiscent of Earth wrapped in geocorona bright ultraviolet light.

    “At that time, the astronauts on the lunar surface did not know that they were actually immersed in the outermost layers of the geocorona” says Jean-Loup.

    The Sun interacts with the hydrogen atoms through a specific wavelength of the ultraviolet spectrum, called Lyman alpha, these atoms can absorb and emit. As this type of light is absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere, it can only be observed from space.

    With its cell uptake of hydrogen, the SWAN instrument could measure light selectively Lyman alpha geocorona and discard the hydrogen atoms located in interplanetary space.

    The new study has revealed that sunlight compresses the hydrogen atoms in the geocorona of the day side of the Earth, while producing a denser region on the night side. Hydrogen daytime region of higher density remains rather low, with only 70 atoms per cubic centimeter to 60,000 kilometers from the earth’s surface, and about 0.2 atoms at the distance of the Moon.

    “On Earth we would call it empty, so this extra source of hydrogen is not enough to provide space exploration,” Igor added.

    The good news is that these particles do not pose a threat to space travelers of future manned missions to orbit the moon.

    “There is also ultraviolet radiation associated -we recalls Jean-Loup geocorona Bertaux- since the hydrogen atoms are dispersed in all directions, but the impact on astronauts in orbit would be minimal mole compared to the main radiation source : the Sun”.

    The bad news is that the Earth’s future geocorona could interfere with astronomical observations near the moon.

    As Jean-Loup warns: “Space telescopes that observe the sky in ultraviolet wavelengths to study the chemical composition of stars and galaxies have to take this into account.”

    The power of files.
    2
    Print Artist Solar and Heliospheric Observatory ESA / NASA SOHO, with the Sun seen by the extreme ultraviolet telescope satellite images on September 14 , 1999. Credit: Spacecraft: ESA / Medialab ATG; Sun: ESA / NASA SOHO, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

    Launched in December 1995, the space observatory SOHO has more than two decades studying the sun, from inside its core to the outer corona and solar wind. The satellite orbits in the first Lagrange point (L1), about 1.5 million kilometers from Earth toward the sun.

    LaGrange Points map. NASA

    Its position is perfect to watch the geocorona from outside. The SWAN instrument SOHO captured images of the Earth and its atmosphere on three occasions between 1996 and 1998.

    The team of researchers from Jean-Loup and Igor in Russia decided to recover this data set from the files for analysis. These unique of all the geocorona from SOHO views are now shedding new light on Earth’s atmosphere.

    “It is often possible to take advantage of archived data many years and do new science with them -constata Bernhard Fleck, SOHO Project Scientist of ESA-. This finding underscores the value of some data collected over 20 years and the outstanding performance of SOHO “.

    More information:
    The article ” SWAN / SOHO Lyman-alpha mapping: the Hydrogen geocorona extends well beyond the Moon .” I Baliukin et al, is accepted for publication in Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

    ESA50 Logo large

     
  • richardmitnick 10:43 am on February 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Solar Tadpole-Like Jets Seen With NASA’S IRIS Add New Clue to Age-Old Mystery", , , , , , , , Solar research   

    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center: “Solar Tadpole-Like Jets Seen With NASA’S IRIS Add New Clue to Age-Old Mystery” 

    NASA Goddard Banner
    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

    Feb. 19, 2019
    Mara Johnson-Groh
    mara.johnson-groh@nasa.gov
    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

    NASA IRIS spacecraft

    Scientists have discovered tadpole-shaped jets coming out of regions with intense magnetic fields on the Sun. Unlike those living on Earth, these “tadpoles” — formally called pseudo-shocks — are made entirely of plasma, the electrically conducting material made of charged particles that account for an estimated 99 percent of the observable universe. The discovery adds a new clue to one of the longest-standing mysteries in astrophysics.

    1
    Anmated images from IRIS show the tadpole-shaped jets containing pseudo-shocks streaking out from the Sun.
    Credits: Abhishek Srivastava IIT (BHU)/Joy Ng, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

    For 150 years scientists have been trying to figure out why the wispy upper atmosphere of the Sun — the corona — is over 200 times hotter than the solar surface. This region, which extends millions of miles, somehow becomes superheated and continually releases highly charged particles, which race across the solar system at supersonic speeds.

    When those particles encounter Earth, they have the potential to harm satellites and astronauts, disrupt telecommunications, and even interfere with power grids during particularly strong events. Understanding how the corona gets so hot can ultimately help us understand the fundamental physics behind what drives these disruptions.

    In recent years, scientists have largely debated two possible explanations for coronal heating: nanoflares and electromagnetic waves. The nanoflare theory proposes bomb-like explosions, which release energy into the solar atmosphere. Siblings to the larger solar flares, they are expected to occur when magnetic field lines explosively reconnect, releasing a surge of hot, charged particles. An alternative theory suggests a type of electromagnetic wave called Alfvén waves might push charged particles into the atmosphere like an ocean wave pushing a surfer. Scientists now think the corona may be heated by a combination of phenomenon like these, instead of a single one alone.

    The new discovery of pseudo-shocks adds another player to that debate. Particularly, it may contribute heat to the corona during specific times, namely when the Sun is active, such as during solar maximums — the most active part of the Sun’s 11-year cycle marked by an increase in sunspots, solar flares and coronal mass ejections.

    The discovery of the solar tadpoles was somewhat fortuitous. When recently analyzing data from NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, scientists noticed unique elongated jets emerging from sunspots ­— cool, magnetically-active regions on the Sun’s surface — and rising 3,000 miles up into the inner corona. The jets, with bulky heads and rarefied tails, looked to the scientists like tadpoles swimming up through the Sun’s layers.

    “We were looking for waves and plasma ejecta, but instead, we noticed these dynamical pseudo-shocks, like disconnected plasma jets, that are not like real shocks but highly energetic to fulfill Sun’s radiative losses,” said Abhishek Srivastava, scientist at the Indian Institute of Technology (BHU) in Varanasi, India, and lead author on the new paper in Nature Astronomy.

    Using computer simulations matching the events, they determined these pseudo-shocks could carry enough energy and plasma to heat the inner corona.

    2
    Animated computer simulation shows how the pseudo-shock is ejected and becomes disconnected from the plasma below (green). Credits: Abhishek Srivastava IIT (BHU)/Joy Ng, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

    The scientists believe the pseudo-shocks are ejected by magnetic reconnection — an explosive tangling of magnetic field lines, which often occurs in and around sunspots. The pseudo-shocks have only been observed around the rims of sunspots so far, but scientists expect they’ll be found in other highly magnetized regions as well.

    3
    The tadpole-shaped pseudo-shocks, shown in dashed white box, are ejected from highly magnetized regions on the solar surface. Credits: Abhishek Srivastava IIT (BHU)/Joy Ng, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

    Over the past five years, IRIS has kept an eye on the Sun in its 10,000-plus orbits around Earth. It’s one of several in NASA’s Sun-staring fleet that have continually observed the Sun over the past two decades. Together, they are working to resolve the debate over coronal heating and solve other mysteries the Sun keeps.

    “From the beginning, the IRIS science investigation has focused on combining high-resolution observations of the solar atmosphere with numerical simulations that capture essential physical processes,” said Bart De Pontieu research scientist at Lockheed Martin Solar & Astrophysics Laboratory in Palo Alto, California. “This paper is a nice illustration of how such a coordinated approach can lead to new physical insights into what drives the dynamics of the solar atmosphere.”

    The newest member in NASA’s heliophysics fleet, Parker Solar Probe, may be able to provide some additional clues to the coronal heating mystery.

    NASA Parker Solar Probe Plus named to honor Pioneering Physicist Eugene Parker

    Launched in 2018, the spacecraft flies through the solar corona to trace how energy and heat move through the region and to explore what accelerates the solar wind as well as solar energetic particles. Looking at phenomena far above the region where pseudo-shocks are found, Parker Solar Probe’s investigation hopes to shed light on other heating mechanisms, like nanoflares and electromagnetic waves. This work will complement the research conducted with IRIS.

    “This new heating mechanism could be compared to the investigations that Parker Solar Probe will be doing,” said Aleida Higginson, deputy project scientist for Parker Solar Probe at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. “Together they could provide a comprehensive picture of coronal heating.”

    Related Links:

    Learn more about NASA’s IRIS Mission
    NASA’s Parker Solar Probe and the Curious Case of the Hot Corona
    Learn more about NASA’s Parker Solar Probe

    See the full article here.


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center is home to the nation’s largest organization of combined scientists, engineers and technologists that build spacecraft, instruments and new technology to study the Earth, the sun, our solar system, and the universe.

    Named for American rocketry pioneer Dr. Robert H. Goddard, the center was established in 1959 as NASA’s first space flight complex. Goddard and its several facilities are critical in carrying out NASA’s missions of space exploration and scientific discovery.


    NASA/Goddard Campus

     
  • richardmitnick 1:24 pm on February 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ExtremeTech, , Solar research   

    From ExtremeTech: “Solar Probe Begins Its Second Orbit of the Sun” 

    From ExtremeTech

    Jan 31, 2019
    Ryan Whitwam

    NASA Parker Solar Probe Plus named to honor Pioneering Physicist Eugene Parker

    NASA’s Parker solar surveyor became a record-setter at the beginning of its mission when it took the title of fastest spacecraft in history from the wildly successful New Horizons probe. It made history again a few weeks later by flying through the sun’s corona and beaming back data. Now, NASA reports that Parker has completed a full orbit of the sun, and it’s diving back for another pass.

    Parker entered full operational status on Jan. 1 with all systems operating normally. It has started relaying mountains of data via the Deep Space network — NASA says it has collected more than 17 gigabytes so far. Parker has collected so much data that it’ll take several more months to get all of it sent back. The data dump from the first orbit should be done just in time for Parker to dive into the sun’s corona again.

    NASA Deep Space Network

    In preparation for the upcoming solar pass, NASA is busily clearing space on the probe’s internal solid state drives. As data makes it back to Earth, NASA deletes the corresponding files on Parker. The spacecraft is also getting new navigational information, which NASA transmits one month at a time.

    NASA says it expects Parker to reach perihelion (the closest approach to the sun) on Apr. 4. This will be the second of 24 planned orbits that promise to advance our understanding of the sun. Parker’s mission has been in the works for years. NASA has long wanted to study the sun’s corona, but the technology to protect a probe was beyond our abilities until just recently. You’d probably expect the surface of the sun to be hotter than the space around it, but that’s not the case. The corona of ionized plasma surrounding the sun is around one million Kelvin, 300 times hotter than the surface.

    1

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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  • richardmitnick 1:18 pm on December 13, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Solar research, The Parker Solar Probe takes its first up-close look at the sun   

    From Science News: “The Parker Solar Probe takes its first up-close look at the sun” 

    From Science News

    December 12, 2018
    Lisa Grossman

    NASA Parker Solar Probe Plus named to honor Pioneering Physicist Eugene Parker

    The spacecraft broke speed and distance records on its initial solar flyby.

    1
    FIRST LOOK One of the first images NASA’s Parker Solar Probe took during its close encounter with the sun shows a streamer of plasma in the outer solar atmosphere, or corona. The probe took this image November 8 at a distance of about 27 million kilometers from the sun’s surface. The bright dot below the streamer is Jupiter. Parker Solar Probe/NASA and Naval Research Laboratory

    NASA’s Parker Solar Probe has met the sun and lived to tell the tale.

    The sun-grazing spacecraft has already broken the records for the fastest space probe and the nearest brush any spacecraft has made with the sun. Now the probe is sending data back from its close solar encounter, scientists reported December 12 at the American Geophysical Union meeting in Washington, D.C.

    “What we are looking at now is completely brand new,” solar physicist Nour Raouafi of Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, Md., said at a news conference. “Nobody looked at this before.”

    Parker launched August 12 (SN Online: 8/12/18) and will make 24 close passes by the sun over the next seven years, eventually going to within about 6 million kilometers of the sun’s surface (SN: 7/21/18, p. 12). The spacecraft made its first close flyby November 6, swooping to within roughly 24 million kilometers of the solar surface. That’s about twice as close to the sun as the previous closest spacecraft, the Helios spacecraft in the 1970s. At peak speed, Parker was racing at about 375,000 kilometers per hour, roughly twice Helios’ speed.

    But because the probe was on the opposite side of the sun from Earth during the flyby, Parker didn’t start relaying its observations until December 7.

    After the probe emerged from behind the sun, the Parker team got its first up-close look at the wispy outer solar atmosphere, called the corona. One of the first images from Parker’s camera shows unprecedented detail in a solar streamer, a filament of plasma in the corona. The team hopes that Parker’s data will help solve the mystery of why the corona is about 300 times as hot as the sun’s surface (SN Online: 8/20/17).

    Only about one-fifth of the data recorded during Parker’s initial flyby will reach scientists before the sun gets between Earth and the spacecraft again. The rest of the data will be downlinked next year, between March and May. Scientists hope to start publishing results soon after.

    “If you ask any scientist in the team or even outside what to expect, I think the answer would be, we don’t really know,” Raouafi said. “We are almost certain we’ll make new discoveries.”

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

     
  • richardmitnick 9:41 am on December 4, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , CLASP-Chromospheric Lyman-Alpha Spectro-Polarimeter, , , , Solar chromosphere, Solar research   

    From Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias – IAC via Manu Garcia: “A Sun more complex than expected” 


    From Manu Garcia, a friend from IAC.

    The universe around us.
    Astronomy, everything you wanted to know about our local universe and never dared to ask.

    IAC

    From Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias – IAC

    Nov. 28, 2018

    Contacts at the IAC:
    Javier Trujillo Bueno
    jtb@iac.es

    Jiri Stepan
    jiri.stepan@asu.cas.cz

    Andrés Asensio Ramos
    aasensio@iac.es

    Tanausú del Pino Alemán:
    tanausu@iac.es

    1
    FIGURE 1: View of the structure of temperature via a vertical section in a three – dimensional (3D) model of the solar atmosphere resulting from a magneto-hydrodynamic simulation chromosphere (see Carlsson et al 2016. A & A, 585, A4 ). The solid curve shows the heights (Z) in this model from which the photons from the center of the Lyman-α observed by CLASP (note that almost coincides with the transition region between the chromosphere and the crown model) line. The summary in this press release research shows that in the solar atmosphere the geometry of the transition region is much more complex. For more details see Trujillo Good and the CLASP team (2018; The Astrophysical Journal Letters, 866, L15).

    2
    FIGURE 2: Negative high image resolution chromosphere obtained
    with an instrument selected central radiation of a cromosférica line,
    which gives information about the structure of the plasma around 300 km
    below the transition region. Credit: J. Harvey (NSO, USA..).

    The CLASP experiment (Chromospheric Lyman-Alpha Spectro-Polarimeter) was launched on 2015 September 3. The instrument, onboard a NASA suborbital rocket, measured with great success and for the first time the linear polarization of the strongest spectral line of the solar ultraviolet spectrum, the hydrogen Lyman-α line.

    IAC CLASP Chromospheric Lyman-Alpha Spectro-Polarimeter

    This international experiment (Japan, USA and Europe) was motivated by theoretical investigations carried out in 2011 at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC). Thanks to the unprecedented observations provided by the CLASP instrument, the scientific team was able to confirm most of the theoretical predictions. However, the observed polarization signals, contrary to those calculated in today’s theoretical models of the solar atmosphere, do not show any significant variation in their line-center amplitude when the line of sight goes from the center to the edge of the solar disk. “This was a very interesting surprise that aroused great scientific interest, because the spectral lines of the solar visible spectrum (which can be observed with ground-based telescopes) show such a variation”, says Javier Trujillo Bueno, professor of the Spanish Research Council at the IAC and one of the principal investigators of CLASP.

    The radiation of the Lyman-α line encodes information about the physical properties of the transition region, an enigmatic geometrically thin region where in less than 100 km the temperature suddenly jumps from the ten thousand degrees of the chromosphere to the million degrees of the corona. It is in these regions of the outer solar atmosphere where the explosive phenomena that can affect the Earth’s magnetosphere takes place. “The puzzling lack of a clear variation in the amplitude of the polarization signal when going from the center to the edge of the solar disk hides clues about the structure of the transition region”, says Jiri Stepan of the Astronomical Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic and one of the members of CLASP, presently on a working visit at the IAC.

    The fact that the CLASP observations cannot be reproduced by today’s models of the solar atmosphere suggests that the 3D structure of the chromosphere-corona transition region is much more complex than previously thought. In order to confirm this idea, the scientific team has carried out a complex theoretical investigation in order to determine the magnetization and geometrical complexity of the transition region that best explains the experimental data.

    With the help of the MareNostrum supercomputer of the National Supercomputing Center in Barcelona, the researchers have calculated what would be the expected polarization signals for a large number of 3D atmospheric models, constructed by changing the degree of magnetization and geometrical complexity of the 3D solar model atmosphere illustrated in Figure 1.

    MareNostrum Lenovo supercomputer of the National Supercomputing Center in Barcelona

    Such study has led to two important conclusions, namely, the transition region of the atmospheric model that most likely explains the CLASP observations has a significantly larger degree of geometrical complexity and a smaller degree of magnetization. The results of this investigation make it evident the need to develop more realistic 3D models of the solar atmosphere, by including phenomena such as spicules, ubiquitous in high-resolution observations of the line-core intensity in strong chromospheric lines (see Figure 2), but not present in today’s 3D models of the solar atmosphere.

    The Principal Investigators of the CLASP project are:

    Amy Winebarger (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, NASA/MSFC)
    Ryouei Kano (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, NAOJ)
    Frédéric Auchère (Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale, IAS)
    Javier Trujillo Bueno (Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, IAC)

    Related press releases:

    CLASP has a successful mission
    A new research window in Solar Physics: Ultraviolet Spectropolarimetry

    See the full article here.


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

    The Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias(IAC) is an international research centre in Spain which comprises:

    The Instituto de Astrofísica, the headquarters, which is in La Laguna (Tenerife).
    The Centro de Astrofísica en La Palma (CALP)
    The Observatorio del Teide (OT), in Izaña (Tenerife).

    These centres, with all the facilities they bring together, make up the European Northern Observatory(ENO).

    The IAC is constituted administratively as a Public Consortium, created by statute in 1982, with involvement from the Spanish Government, the Government of the Canary Islands, the University of La Laguna and Spain’s Science Research Council (CSIC).

    The International Scientific Committee (CCI) manages participation in the observatories by institutions from other countries. A Time Allocation Committee (CAT) allocates the observing time reserved for Spain at the telescopes in the IAC’s observatories.

    The exceptional quality of the sky over the Canaries for astronomical observations is protected by law. The IAC’s Sky Quality Protection Office (OTPC) regulates the application of the law and its Sky Quality Group continuously monitors the parameters that define observing quality at the IAC Observatories.

    The IAC’s research programme includes astrophysical research and technological development projects.

    The IAC is also involved in researcher training, university teaching and outreachactivities.

    The IAC has devoted much energy to developing technology for the design and construction of a large 10.4 metre diameter telescope, the ( Gran Telescopio CANARIAS, GTC), which is sited at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos.



    Gran Telescopio Canarias at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the island of La Palma, in the Canaries, SpainGran Telescopio CANARIAS, GTC

     
  • richardmitnick 3:51 pm on November 27, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , How to Look Inside a Star With Artificial Intelligence and Sound Waves, Solar research   

    From Discover Magazine: “How to Look Inside a Star With Artificial Intelligence and Sound Waves” 

    DiscoverMag

    From Discover Magazine

    November 27, 2018
    Chelsea Gohd

    1
    The fiery behavior of a star can be observed as sound waves. A pair of astronomers has built an AI network to better study stars using these sound waves. (Credit: NASA)

    Star Sound Waves

    Using artificial intelligence (AI) and sound waves, researchers have found a possible means of looking inside stars.

    It’s based on the fact that stars aren’t solid objects — far from it, in fact. They’re intense, vibrating balls of plasma held together by their own gravity and with wildly energetic nuclear reactions at their core. Now, researchers say that they’re beginning to find ways to discern the internal state of a star by looking at the vibrations that propagate from its core through to the surface.

    Ringing Like A Bell

    The energy in stars is constantly in motion. The extreme, high energy of a star’s core is always moving outwards towards the cold, low energy of space. These sound waves resonate throughout the star, and smaller stars producer a higher pitch than larger stars, just like a smaller bell would produce a higher pitch than a larger bell. By studying a star’s sound waves, researchers can tell how old a star is, how big it is, what it’s made of and more.

    “Stellar sound waves are very similar to the symphonies in our concert halls here on Earth,” Radboud University researcher and study co-author Luc Hendriks said in an email. “These sound waves are caused by starquakes. These quakes create sound with specific frequencies, just as flutes or guitars or pianos have specific “tones” and “overtones” (or harmonics). So from the tones, we deduce how big the star is, as the sound probes the size of the “concert hall”. So for us, a star is a gigantic 3D musical instrument, and its sound waves probe the physical conditions in its interior.”

    Most recently, researchers have studied stellar sound waves using NASA’s Kepler space telescope and NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS).

    NASA/Kepler Telescope

    NASA/MIT TESS

    These instruments are able to observe and measure stellar sound waves by studying the brightness of the stars. Stellar vibrations reveal themselves visibly as brightening and dimming, so instruments like Kepler and TESS have been able to observe stellar sound waves by watching the stars twinkle. In its lifetime, Kepler observed the sound waves of tens of thousands of stars and TESS is expected to observe the sound waves of up to one million red giants.

    Using sophisticated computer models, Hendriks and Katholieke Universiteit Leuven astronomer Conny Aerts think they’ve found a brand new way to use these stellar vibrations to see what’s going on inside stars.
    Stellar AI

    Hendriks and Aerts fed simulations of star activity, created using computer models that collect and synthesize information about stars, to an AI network. The network absorbed this stellar information and found relationships between internal variables like stellar mass, age and what elements the stars contain and the vibration patterns visible on their surfaces. The network then takes this information and applies it to real stars.

    This allows the AI to take real-life stellar sound wave data and compare it to the simulations to discern some of the internal characteristics of a star. This AI will be a new tool for researchers studying stars through their sound waves. It is even possible that the AI might be able to analyze raw stellar sound wave data quicker than a human.

    But, this star-analyzing AI network is still very new, and hard results are still to come. The researchers’ paper on the technology is posted on the pre-print server arXiv at the moment, and has been accepted to the technical journal of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, but it has not yet been peer-reviewed.

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

     
  • richardmitnick 11:44 am on November 1, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , Solar research   

    From JHU HUB: “The fastest, hottest mission under the sun” Parker Solar Probe 

    Johns Hopkins

    From JHU HUB

    1
    NASA Parker Solar Probe Plus named to honor Pioneering Physicist Eugene Parker.

    The Parker Solar Probe shatters records as it prepares for its first solar encounter.

    10.31.18
    Geoff Brown

    The Parker Solar Probe, designed, built, and operated by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, now holds two operational records for a spacecraft and will continue to set new records during its seven-year mission to the sun.

    The Parker Solar Probe is now the closest spacecraft to the sun—it passed the current record of 26.55 million miles from the sun’s surface at 1:04 p.m. on Monday, as calculated by the Parker Solar Probe team. As the mission progresses, the spacecraft will make a final close approach of 3.83 million miles from the sun’s surface, expected in 2024.

    Also on Monday, Parker Solar Probe surpassed a speed of 153,454 miles per hour at 10:54 p.m., making it the fastest human-made object relative to the sun. The spacecraft will also accelerate over the course of the mission, achieving a top speed of about 430,000 miles per hour in 2024.

    The previous records for closest solar approach and speed were set by the German-American Helios 2 spacecraft in April 1976.

    “It’s been just 78 days since Parker Solar Probe launched, and we’ve now come closer to our star than any other spacecraft in history,” said project manager Andy Driesman of APL’s Space Exploration Sector. “It’s a proud moment for the team, though we remain focused on our first solar encounter, which begins [today].”

    The Parker Solar Probe team periodically measures the spacecraft’s precise speed and position using NASA’s Deep Space Network, or DSN. The DSN sends a signal to the spacecraft, which then retransmits it back, allowing the team to determine the spacecraft’s speed and position based on the timing and characteristics of the signal. The Parker Solar Probe’s speed and position were calculated using DSN measurements made up to Oct. 24, and the team used that information along with known orbital forces to calculate the spacecraft’s speed and position from that point on.

    NASA Deep Space Network

    NASA Deep Space Network


    NASA Deep Space Network dish, Goldstone, CA, USA


    NASA Canberra, AU, Deep Space Network

    The Parker Solar Probe will begin its first solar encounter today, continuing to fly closer and closer to the sun’s surface until it reaches its first perihelion—the name for the point where it is closest to the sun—at approximately 10:28 p.m. on Nov. 5, at a distance of about 15 million miles from the sun.

    The spacecraft will face brutal heat and radiation while providing unprecedented, close-up observations of a star and helping us understand phenomena that have puzzled scientists for decades. These observations will add key knowledge to our understanding of the sun, where changing conditions can propagate out into the solar system, affecting Earth and other planets.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    About the Hub

    We’ve been doing some thinking — quite a bit, actually — about all the things that go on at Johns Hopkins. Discovering the glue that holds the universe together, for example. Or unraveling the mysteries of Alzheimer’s disease. Or studying butterflies in flight to fine-tune the construction of aerial surveillance robots. Heady stuff, and a lot of it.

    In fact, Johns Hopkins does so much, in so many places, that it’s hard to wrap your brain around it all. It’s too big, too disparate, too far-flung.

    We created the Hub to be the news center for all this diverse, decentralized activity, a place where you can see what’s new, what’s important, what Johns Hopkins is up to that’s worth sharing. It’s where smart people (like you) can learn about all the smart stuff going on here.

    At the Hub, you might read about cutting-edge cancer research or deep-trench diving vehicles or bionic arms. About the psychology of hoarders or the delicate work of restoring ancient manuscripts or the mad motor-skills brilliance of a guy who can solve a Rubik’s Cube in under eight seconds.

    There’s no telling what you’ll find here because there’s no way of knowing what Johns Hopkins will do next. But when it happens, this is where you’ll find it.

    Johns Hopkins Campus

    The Johns Hopkins University opened in 1876, with the inauguration of its first president, Daniel Coit Gilman. “What are we aiming at?” Gilman asked in his installation address. “The encouragement of research … and the advancement of individual scholars, who by their excellence will advance the sciences they pursue, and the society where they dwell.”

    The mission laid out by Gilman remains the university’s mission today, summed up in a simple but powerful restatement of Gilman’s own words: “Knowledge for the world.”

    What Gilman created was a research university, dedicated to advancing both students’ knowledge and the state of human knowledge through research and scholarship. Gilman believed that teaching and research are interdependent, that success in one depends on success in the other. A modern university, he believed, must do both well. The realization of Gilman’s philosophy at Johns Hopkins, and at other institutions that later attracted Johns Hopkins-trained scholars, revolutionized higher education in America, leading to the research university system as it exists today.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:27 pm on October 24, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Biermann battery effect, , , , , Solar research   

    From COSMOS Magazine: “Supercomputer finds clues to violent magnetic events” 

    Cosmos Magazine bloc

    From COSMOS Magazine

    24 October 2018
    Phil Dooley

    1
    An aurora over Iceland, the product of sudden magnetic reconnection. Credit Natthawat/Getty Images

    Researchers are a step closer to understanding the violent magnetic events that cause the storms on the sun’s surface and fling clouds of hot gas out into space, thanks to colossal computer simulations at Princeton University in the US.

    The disruptions in the magnetic field, known as magnetic reconnections, are common in the universe – the same process causes the aurora in high latitude skies – but existing models are unable to explain how they happen so quickly.

    A team led by Jackson Matteucci decided to investigate by building a full three-dimensional simulation of the ejected hot gas, something that required enormous computing power. The results are published in the journal Physical Review Letters.

    The researchers modelled more than 200 million particles using Titan, the biggest supercomputer [no longer true, the writer should have known that] in the US.

    ORNL Cray Titan XK7 Supercomputer, once the fastest in the world.

    They discovered that a three-dimensional interaction called the Biermann battery effect was at the heart of the sudden reconnection process.

    Discovered in the fifties by German astrophysicist Ludwig Biermann, the Biermann battery effect shows how magnetic fields can be generated in charged gases, known as plasma.

    In such plasmas, if a region develops in which there is a temperature gradient at right angles to a density gradient, a magnetic field is created that encircles it.

    Astrophysicists propose that this effect might take place in interstellar plasma clouds, such as nebulae, and generate the cosmic magnetic fields that we see throughout the universe.

    In contrast with the huge scale of cosmic plasma clouds, magnetic reconnection happens at a scale of microns when two magnetic fields collide, says Matteucci.

    He likens the process to collisions between two sizable handfuls of rubber bands. In stable circumstances the magnetic field lines are loops, like the bands. But sometimes turbulence in the plasma pushes these band analogues together so forcefully that they sever and reconnect to different ones, thus forming loops at different orientations.

    Some of the new loops are stretched taut and snap back, providing the energy that ejects material so violently, and causes magnetic storms or glowing auroras.

    The Princeton simulation showed that as the fields collide there is a sudden spike in the temperature in a very localised region, which sets off the Biermann battery effect, suddenly creating a new magnetic field in the midst of the collision. It’s this newly-appearing field that severs the lines and allows them to reconfigure.

    Although Matteucci’s simulations are for tiny plasma clouds generated by lasers hitting foil, he says they could help us understand large-scale processes in the atmosphere.

    “If you do a back of the envelope calculation, you find it could play an important role in reconnection in the magnetosphere, where the solar wind collides with the Earth’s magnetic field,” he says.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

     
  • richardmitnick 5:37 pm on October 18, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Solar research, Sunspot facility on Sacramento Peak in the southern part of New Mexico   

    From SETI Institute: “Mysterious goings-on at a New Mexico solar observatory have been hot news” 

    SETI Logo new
    From SETI Institute

    Sep 21, 2018
    Seth Shostak, Senior Astronomer

    Sunspot facility on Sacramento Peak in the southern part of New Mexico, Elevation 9,186 ft (2,800 m)

    For the past two weeks, mysterious goings-on at a New Mexico solar observatory have been hot news. On Sept. 6, the Sunspot facility on Sacramento Peak in the southern part of the state was strung with yellow tape, and employees were sent home. This set off alarm bells across the Internet: Had astronomers found a lethal solar flare, or even signs of alien life? And was there a government cover-up?

    After days of rampant speculation, authorities finally fessed up and explained the situation as a “security issue.” They offered scant details but indicated that there had been a threat to people on the peak and that secrecy was necessary.

    Now the scare is over, all systems are “go” and the observatory is back in business. A nonstory, in other words. Except that there is something to ponder here.

    Why did the fantastic explanations for the hush-up get so much traction? A dangerous event on the sun — such as a coronal mass ejection that might disable satellites or disrupt the electric grid — could be quickly ruled out. There are dozens of solar observatories around the world, and all would have seen something and said something.

    But aliens … well, that might make more sense. At least to the large fraction of the populace who believe the government is covering up evidence of extraterrestrial life. A 2012 National Geographic poll found that nearly 80 percent of Americans think that the government is hiding information about the presence of aliens.

    The Sac Peak story fed into these beliefs, and offered a perfect storm of shadowy circumstances. To begin with, an observatory seems to have a direct connection to aliens because telescopes scrutinize the sky — where extraterrestrials hang out when they’re not spiriting folks out of suburban bedrooms. And Sac Peak is only 105 air miles from the tiny town of Corona (northwest of Roswell) where — according to UFO lore — alien aviators purportedly ditched their flying saucer seven decades ago. To add suspicion to intrigue, Sac Peak’s work has been supported by government money, which to some makes it simultaneously suspect and malevolent.

    So of course it could be aliens.

    But why are the public, and even the media, so often drawn to this explanation for just about anything related to space? Americans seem prone to believe that tens of thousands of bureaucrats (or scientists, such as those working for NASA) could be corralled into making hugely important discoveries and keeping them secret. After all, it happens on TV all the time.

    For its part, our government does often act covertly. There was that five-year Pentagon UFO study revealed last December, for instance. And in the case of the Sac Peak closure, it does seem strange that authorities would say secrecy was necessary. The endless news stories about the observatory would be tip-off enough to any per perpetrator.

    When it comes to possible research cover-ups, I’m relentlessly skeptical. I know from decades of experience that science is open: It operates by demanding confirmation and making results public. “Publish or perish” may be a cliché, but it is nonetheless true. If you, as a scientist, keep your work secret, you’ll soon be seeking another line of work.

    Whatever happened at Sac Peak has yet to be explained. Aliens, to me, are highly unlikely to be part of the story. But in America, whenever the facts remain obscure you can always count on fevered imaginations to offer up their own unsteady illumination.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SETI Institute – 189 Bernardo Ave., Suite 100
    Mountain View, CA 94043
    Phone 650.961.6633 – Fax 650-961-7099
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