Flaring sun resembled a kaleidoscope
Once again at the National Astronomy Meeting in Llandudno, Wales, some new exciting science research and news came up. On July 7th, the NAM released a press release on the Sun with accompanying x-rays that turned into an x-ray extravaganza.
The resulting images looks like the sun turned into a quasi-kaleidoscope, with some areas of the Sun lighting up from flare activity. According to one astronomer with the University of Glasgow, Ianin Hannah, in a press release by the Royal Astronomical Society, the activity seems to be dimming down. However, the process of dimming will still be a few years coming before it reaches its minimum activity level. Perhaps a few less heat waves? Here’s to hoping.
NuSTAR was used to captured the Sun
NuSTAR usually observes black holes and other such things, but was used to study the Sun one day. NuSTAR’s mission is to focus light on high energy x-rays, which in this case revealed areas lit up in the images to be the work of nanoflares. This tells scientists why the Sun is so much hotter on an atmospheric level, and because these nanoflares are smaller in comparison to other things that occur on the Sun, we wouldn’t normally be able to see them were it not for the x-ray images.
But because other flares occur more visibly to telescopes than the nanoflares, detecting them with the NuSTAR was difficult. However, this particular instrument finally succeeded.
Hindrances to studying nanoflares
Since the Sun is particularly active now, as evident by the solar flares hitting Earth a few weekends ago twice in one week, circumstances make it difficult to study the smaller nanoflares. This is why the dimming down in activity is a good thing. It makes for studying the nanoflares easier without the disrupting larger solar flares getting in the way. Ironically, the Sun is near the end of the quiet session in its eleven year cycle, yet still remaining really active this year.
Once the activity cools down, researchers hope to pinpoint where and how these nanoflares are produced on the Sun. Just don’t try to spot them yourself by staring at it.