Tags: nasa | solar | flare | video | holiday | light | show

NASA Solar Flare Video Offers Holiday Light Show on the Sun

By    |   Friday, 26 Dec 2014 07:05 AM

A spectacular solar flare has been captured on video by NASA's Solar Dynamic Observatory and shows the sun adding some holiday lights for the Christmas season.

The flare peaked about 7:24 p.m. on Dec. 19, according to NASA. Solar flares are strong burst of radiation that the sun emits but aren't harmful to humans because of the Earth's atmosphere.



NASA's observatory classified the flare as a X1.8 flare. X-class denotes the most intense flares, while the number provides more information about its strength, according to NASA. For example, an X2 is twice as intense as an X1, an X3 is three times as intense, etc., noted the space agency.

On Monday, NASA announced that its Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, took its first picture of the sun, giving viewers a dramatic image of the sun 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," David Smith, a solar physicist and member of the NuSTAR team at University of California, Santa Cruz, said in a NASA statement.

NuSTAR was built to observe black holes and other objects that are a great distance from the solar system, according to NASA. Researchers started thinking about using the instrument to study the sun after the space telescope's design and construction was already underway.

"At first I thought the whole idea was crazy," said NuSTAR principal investigator, Fiona Harrison of the California Institute of Technology. "Why would we have the most sensitive high energy X-ray telescope ever built, designed to peer deep into the universe, look at something in our own back yard?"

Researchers are hoping to use NuSTAR to unlock the mystery of why the sun's outer atmosphere is so hot – one million degrees Celsius – while its surface is much cooler, at 6,000 degrees Celsius, according to the Huffington Post.

NASA said that NuSTAR's high-energy views could capture hypothesized nanoflares, which are smaller versions of the sun's larger flares that erupt with charged particles and high-energy radiation.

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A spectacular solar flare has been captured on video by NASA's Solar Dynamic Observatory and shows the sun adding some holiday lights for the Christmas season.
nasa, solar, flare, video, holiday, light, show
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2014-05-26
Friday, 26 Dec 2014 07:05 AM
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