Tag Archive: Sun


After an unusually long quiet period, the sun unleashed a solar flare on May 17 this year – but scientists are now puzzling over what happened on Earth.

Neutron monitors all round the world lit up in response to the blast for the first time in six years, despite the fact it was an M-Class, or moderate, flare.

The ‘answering’ pulse shouldn’t have happened at all. Now scientists are trying to unravel what happened – and why our planet ‘pulsed’ in response.

For decades, there has been strong debate as to what complex processes produce the extremely energetic particles that are registered on the ground; is it the shockwave in front of a CME or do the particles come from the solar flare itself?

James Ryan, an astrophysicist at the UNH Space Science Center said, ‘This solar flare was most unimpressive and the associated CME was only slightly more energetic. And looking at it optically, it was remarkably dim, it was, all things considered, a ninety-eight pound weakling of solar events.’

Scientists are now analysing the data using a satellite which scans an range of bizarre particles invisible to other spacecraft – PAMELA, a European spacecraft dedicated to watching rays from space.

Launched in 2006 and dedicated to studying cosmic rays, just two weeks before the most recent blast from the Sun PAMELA was retasked to focus on solar physics due to the Sun’s ever-increasing activity.

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Fragile Existence!

This enormous tornado erupting from the surface of the sun is big enough to swallow the Earth.

In fact, it could swallow five Earths.

Image: The sun erupts with one of the largest solar flares of this solar cycle in this NASA handout photo

The biggest solar storm in five years is battering our planet right now, and may cause disruptions to satellites, power grids and communications networks over the next 24 hours, space weather experts say.

Two strong solar flares erupted from the surface of the sun late Tuesday, blasting a wave of plasma and charged particles toward Earth. This eruption of material — called a coronal mass ejection, or CME — sped through space at 4 million mph (6.4 million kilometers per hour).

The storm is expected to create strong disruptions due to an odd combination of intense magnetic, radio and radiation emissions, making it the strongest overall solar storm since December 2006, even though the flare that triggered it was not the largest, space weather officials said.

Early predictions estimated that the CME would likely Earth as early as 1:25 a.m. ET Thursday, with the brunt of it arriving at around 7 a.m. ET. The storm is not hitting Earth head-on but is instead delivering a glancing blow to the planet.

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Call it a two-for-one special in renewable energy. A new concept for marine solar cells could harness energy from both the sun and the waves at the same time.

“They work on many different levels. They can be scaled up to as big a project as you want it to be,” said British designer, Phil Pauley.

The idea came to him during a brief brainstorming session, he said. Usually his eponymous firm, located near London, develops interactive 3D models and visualizations for clients that include Deutsche Bank, Hamptons International, and Eurostar.

floating solar cellssolarcells

His design calls for floating dome-shaped solar cells to be linked together in web-like patterns. Wave energy will be captured as the buoyant floats bob up and down in the water, Pauley said. Waves will also act like mirrors to bounce sunlight back on the floating cells and increase solar capture by 20 percent, he estimated. The type of photovoltaics that would cover the domes hasn’t been specified yet.

“The wave force will be moving the domes up and down, which in turn will be moving the bars that connect the cell, which will be creating energy 24-7,” Pauley said. The plan is for that energy to then go into storage units until it’s needed.

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The University of Georgia team says the near-infrared emitting substance could offer the military “secret” illumination at nighttime. It says the all-weather material could also revolutionise diagnostic medicine. The details are published in the latest issue of the Nature Materials journal.

The material combines the well-known near infrared-light emitter trivalent chromium ion with zinc and gallogermanates – compounds of exotic chemical oxides.The chromium ions normally release all of their near infrared-light in the space of a few milliseconds after being exposed to “excitation light”, such as sunlight. However, the zinc and gallogermanates create a “labyrinth of traps” for the energy causing it to be released over an extended period of up to 360-hours.

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