NASA Helps Us Understand Our Magnetic Sun

Understanding the heart of our solar system isn’t exactly the easiest thing, but luckily we have NASA to help us out.

See, the surface of the sun is a hotbed of activity — hah, astronomy puns — and what we can’t see with the naked eye is the writhing and dancing that goes on out there. However, this dancing is probably the most deadly kind in the universe. Swirling cyclones reach into the solar upper atmosphere at wavelengths invisible to our eyes, but thanks to some fancy technology we’re able to see the sun’s magnetic field , which is “responsible for everything from the solar explosions that cause space weather on Earth – such as auroras – to the interplanetary magnetic field and radiation through which our spacecraft journeying around the solar system must travel.”

Right, so we know that the sun has an immense magnetic field, but we’re still working out exactly where that magnetic field comes from.

“We’re not sure exactly where in the sun the magnetic field is created,” said Dean Pesnell, a space scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “It could be close to the solar surface or deep inside the sun – or over a wide range of depths.”

The video above shows an HD computer model of the sun’s magnetic field, which was put together by observing the solar dynamo process, mapping out the shape of magnetic field loops with a magnetograph and combining all their observations using the Potential Field Source Surface model.

We highly encourage you to read up more about this on NASA’s website, because we’re not astrophysicists and trying to explain these things in pirate language wouldn’t do it justice. That said, enjoy the video above in which our very own sun looks like an amazing solar disco ball.


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