Moments of the sun 68

Our text and the video it refers to come from an article in Investor’s Business Daily, by Andrew Malcolm.

He starts with a delectable irrelevance about a man who didn’t take much notice of the sun when attributing the warming of the earth to humankind:

Former journalist, former representative, former senator, former vice president, former husband, former cable channel owner, former inventor and former environmentalist barker Al Gore has obviously given up the global warming game. It’s amazing what a few hundred million petro-dollars will accomplish.

Malcolm is alluding of course to Al Gore’s sale of his TV company to Al Jazeera.

But now we turn to the sun:

Our Sun has reached middle age as stars go, about four billion years old. It’s grown about 6% in that time and — oh, look, Albert was sort of right about one thing — increased its surface temperature about 300 degrees. You probably didn’t notice. …

In another 4.5- to 5-billion years, right about the time Obama’s national debt will be paid down, our Sun will have used up all its hydrogen fuel. That begins a very long, very nasty decay process that involves cataclysmic things like collapsing and expanding in size out to envelope its three closest planets–Mercury, Venus and — oh-oh — Earth. …

Scientists know all this because, thanks to a generation of space telescopes like Hubble, we can watch the slow-motion decay of other distant suns, even though they may well actually have disappeared by the time the light of their decay story reaches Earth.

NASA is also studying our own star. The Solar Dynamics Observatory was launched three years ago. Even though it’s circling the Earth at nearly 7,000 miles an hour and the Earth itself is moving through space about 46 miles every minute, the observatory can stay focused on the Sun.

It snaps a “photo” of the Sun every 12 seconds in 10 different wavelengths.

This new NASA video includes images at the wavelength of 171 angstroms. … The sun particles you see are a little more than one million degrees Fahrenheit.

The four-view of the Sun near the video’s end includes additional wavelengths.

A couple of things to watch for in the fast-moving video below: At 1:11:02 you’ll see the largest solar flare of this cycle, from Aug. 9, 2011. At 1:28:07 watch the frozen Comet Lovejoy flash by on a very close encounter of the solar kind on Dec. 15, 2011. …

And at 1:51:07 that black dot zipping by in the upper left is Venus passing between Earth and the Sun, as it does every century or so. …

NASA constructed this video by taking two images per day from the observatory’s first three years.

Scientists chose this light range to allow views of the Sun’s increased activity over three years of its 11-year activity cycle. The video’s elapsed time also allows human eyes to detect the Sun’s 25-day rotation. (If it looks like the Sun tilts at times, it’s not. It’s the spacecraft rolling to recalibrate focus.)


Posted under Climate, Environmentalism, Science, Videos by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, May 14, 2013

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