Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Living with a Star

This could be a shocking expose about life with a celebrity.

It's not.

It's actually the name of a group that studies the interactions between the sun and life on Earth, or space weather. Furthermore, it's a cool way for me to show you something... cool. Well, cool relative to the rest of its surroundings, anyway. It's actually pretty hot! The below movie clip is footage of a sunspot captured by the Japanese-launched Hinode (Sunrise) international spacecraft.

Sunspots are areas of relatively cool temperature on the surface of the sun. This is caused by intense magnetic activity, which inhibits convection (that up and down swirliness that you see in soup and coffee- among other things, I'm just kind of hungry right now). The exact details of how and why they happen is still an area of intense research in Physics.

Some have said that the footage looks like trilobites. Others have said it looks like cells. According to the article (if you click on the title to this blog, it will take you there- all of the titles of my blog entries are links, incidentally): "This movie is a magnetogram— a dynamic map tracing the sunspot's intense magnetism," Physicist Lika Guhathakurta explains. "Black represents negative (S) polarity, and white represents positive (N)."

I just think it's pretty cool! Enjoy!

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