UCL Mathematical & Physical Sciences


Solar storm

3 March 2014

Solar storm

This image shows the Sun in far ultraviolet light, as seen from the Solar Dynamics Observatory, a NASA spacecraft. These wavelengths cannot be observed from the surface of the Earth, as the high-energy short wavelength radiation is absorbed by the atmosphere.

The image shows an ongoing solar storm (or 'coronal mass ejection') which took place on 7 June 2011. Some of the material ejected from the Sun's surface is visible as dark fingers of material on the right hand side of the disc.

Scientists at UCL's Mullard Space Science Laboratory have used these images of the 7 June 2011 solar storm to study how solar material behaves as it falls back onto the surface of the Sun. And they have found that the Sun has an unexpected twin some 6500 light years away: the Crab Nebula.

The Crab Nebula is a cloud of gas and dust left after the explosion of a large star, almost 1000 years ago. But the structures formed by the gas there are much the same as those visible during solar storms.

Image credit: NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory


High resolution image

This image can be reproduced freely providing the source is credited