Snapshot of the Sun, amid a solar storm

A striking image of our sun released this week from NASA:

After a long solar minimum, the Sun is no longer so quiet. On August 1, this extreme ultraviolet snapshot of the Sun from the Solar Dynamics Observatory captured a complex burst of activity playing across the Sun's northern hemisphere. The false-color image shows the hot solar plasma at temperatures ranging from 1 to 2 million kelvins. Along with the erupting filaments and prominences, a small(!) solar flare spawned in the active region at the left was accompanied by a coronal mass ejection (CME), a billion-ton cloud of energetic particles headed for planet Earth.


  1. I’ve never really thought of the sun as having a ‘north’ before. Does it rotate on the same axis as the planets, or do we just consider the ‘top’, as we would see it, to be the ‘north pole’?

    For that matter, does any space object’s rotation equate to earth-type compass directions (i.e., north is perpendicular from the rotation)?

    1. Regarding the north pole for the sun, I’d always heard it follows the “right hand” rule – if you could hold the planet (or star) in your right hand with your fingers pointed in the direction of rotation, your thumb would point to the north pole.

    2. #1,

      “Does it rotate on the same axis as the planets, or do we just consider the ‘top’, as we would see it, to be the ‘north pole’? ”

      Yes. It rotates once in about 27 days. Interesting that the solar system had so much angular momentum when it formed.

  2. So no more free ride off of Global Dimming for our Global Warming? (The sun’s output has been down for the last decade or so.)

    1. “Snapshot”? Like with a Polaroid? What kind of camera DO they use?

      It was a high end Holga capture system if you must know.

  3. Well—I see a huge tiger paw at the lower left, Salvador Dali in the middle, and he’s wearing a pouncing tiger as a pirate hat.

  4. For full awesomeness, view the entire movie (I think this was at – the still frame in this post doesn’t do it justice. Michael Bay WISHES he could wow audiences to this degree.

  5. Oddly, the cause of rotation in all solar systems continues to elude theoreticians and astronomers. There are at least 6 different prevailing theories of solar system formation and architecture. Magnetic braking seems to be emerging as the most likely candidate because of its clear prediction and explanation of the following anomaly: The sun possesses 99% of the solar system’s mass, but retains only 1% of its angular momentum in revolution; the planets are only 1% of the solar system’s mass, but whip around with 99% of its angular momentum in rotation. Something major has been and will continue to slow down the sun’s revolutionary momentum. And it’s magnetic drag.

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