November 26, 2022

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NASA takes a picture of the "smiling" sun.  It's not as cute as it seems.

NASA takes a picture of the “smiling” sun. It’s not as cute as it seems.

Suspension

It turns out that anyone who drew a smiling sun face in their childhood did. Scientifically proven – to some extent – true. Last week, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured an image of the largest object in our solar system that looks like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from “Ghostbusters,” the baby-faced Teletubbies sun or a jack-o-lantern (if you’re in the Halloween spirit).

But what it looks like Papa scrub sponge Flames may not be as cute as they seem. For us here on Earth, it can produce solar emojis Nice see the twilight – Or it could indicate problems for the communication systems of the planet.

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He said the sun is, in essence, “the largest nuclear reactor in our solar system” Brian Keating, professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego. There’s a wave of motion happening every second in the massive, glowing ball of hot gas — from the conversion of hydrogen into helium, which produces the same amount of heat as many nuclear bombs, to electrical storms and solar earthquakes.

Some of this solar activity was imaged by NASA’s satellite on Wednesday, Keating told the Washington Post.

In the image, the trio of spots that make up the “face” – which cannot be seen with human eyes because they lie in the ultraviolet spectrum – are what are known as coronal holes, or slightly cooler parts of the sun’s outer layer, which are usually around 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit .

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“We’re talking about a few hundred degrees, so it’s not like a ski resort,” Keating said. “But because it’s so dark and because we’re looking at it in ultraviolet light, which the naked eye can’t see, [NASA satellite] They see them as dark holes.”

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Coronal holes are not only Interesting shapes moving around the surface of the sun. They are regions of high magnetic field activity that steadily send the solar wind – or the flux of protons, electrons and other particles – into the universe.

“More than just a smiling face, its eyes are like twinkling lasers that send out particles that can cause severe disturbances in Earth’s atmosphere,” Keating said.

When particles, which carry an electric charge, collide with the planet in a small way doses colorful twilight It may follow that, great displays produced by the interaction of atmospheric gases with the energy shots from the sun. Problems arise if too many very small particles collide with the Earth, Keating said. Instead of being absorbed into the Earth’s magnetic field, they can be picked up by radio antennas and disrupt radio, television and other communication channels. Keating added that a severe solar storm could damage electrical grids and cause blackouts.

On December 14, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe flew through the Sun’s upper atmosphere and sampled particles and magnetic fields there. (Video: NASA Goddard)

While Pictures of a smiling sun have been taken before – for example, in 2013 then “guilty eat” Or in 2014 when NASA called it a “Pumpkin Sun”The worst-case scenario described by Keating hasn’t happened in nearly two centuries. The last severe geomagnetic storm to affect Earth the most was 1859 Carrington Eventcausing fires in many telegraph stations with the appearance of the aurora borealis in the tropics.

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He said that a huge event like this was long overdue.

“Scientists expect it to happen on average, with a 2% chance, every year, and we’ve just been dodging all these magnetic bullets for a long time,” Keating said. “So it can be really scary, and the consequences could be even more dramatic, especially in our current technology-dependent society.”

Sun particles from the last smile event may reach Earth just in time on the ghostly night of the year.

“There could be something in our way on Halloween night after all,” Keating said. “Very terrifying, but I hope it isn’t too scary.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center export Watch a small magnetic storm on Saturday, warning that conditions could change from “unstable” to “active.” The eruption of coronal holes is expected to continue until Wednesday.