Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Hinode to Support Ground-based Eclipse Observations

On Nov. 13, 2012, certain parts of Earth will experience a total solar eclipse, which, like all eclipses, will only be visible when you are aligned in a straight line with the moon and the sun.

In this case the eclipse will only be seen from a narrow corridor in the southern hemisphere that is mostly over the ocean but also cuts across the northern tip of Australia.

To support ground observations of the solar eclipse on Nov. 13, 2012, Hinode will capture images of the full sun from space for comparison, much like this one captured on March 16, 2012 with its X-Ray Telescope. Credit: Hinode, JAXA/NASA

The JAXA/NASA Hinode mission will experience a partial eclipse of the sun near the same time as the observers in Australia. Hinode will coordinate its observations with those from the ground, before, during, and after the eclipse to produce a combined, scientifically interesting dataset.

Watching a solar eclipse – using appropriate instruments to protect the eyes since you should never look at the sun directly – is a crucial way of seeing the dim structures around the edges of the sun normally obscured by the brightness of the sun itself. Indeed it was during eclipses that scientists first observed the sun's atmosphere, the corona, which extends beyond the more easily seen surface, known as the photosphere.

In modern times, we know that the corona is constantly on the move. Made of electrified gas, called plasma, the solar material dances in response to huge magnetic fields on the sun. Structural changes in these magnetic fields can also give rise to giant explosions of radiation called solar flares, or expulsions of solar material called coronal mass ejections, CMEs – which make the corona a particularly interesting area to study.

"There are certain aspects of the corona that you can only see during an eclipse," says Jonathan Cirtain, the project scientist for Hinode at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. "We'll change where Hinode points during the eclipse to support the different regions being observed from the ground."

Several groups will be doing observations from Australia. Although we have learned to make artificial eclipses using modern telescopes, owing to the distance of the moon, these natural eclipses are actually substantially beyond what we can do in terms of suppressing the light from the disk of the sun. This allows us to do unique science observations during these brief periods. A group from University of Hawaii will measure the intensities of various types of ionized iron atoms (atoms that have lost electrons) by measuring the radiation emitted at different stages of ionization. Since the iron atoms lose more electrons as the temperature increases (increasing the ionization stage), mapping such radiation can help scientists observe the temperature distribution throughout higher levels of the sun's atmosphere than can usually be seen.

A second group is led by NASA-Marshall and will observe a solar phenomenon known as plumes. Plumes are large structures that extend far out into the sun's corona and never turn back around to hit the sun again (as some other solar structures do.) These are typically seen in areas where the sun is more quiet, and again are hard to spot next to the brightness of the sun itself. Plumes are constrained to follow the very magnetic fields of the sun itself, so they can be a tool for mapping the sun's complex magnetic system, which, in turn, is thought to be the driving force for most events on the sun.

"Hinode will provide context images," says Cirtain. "It can see both the corona and the disk of the sun, and the hope is to be able to correlate the emission seen by eclipse observations on the ground to where its coming from on the sun itself."

Since the view of the eclipse from Australia only lasts for two minutes, the Hinode team has had to organize how to quickly capture the context images desired. But, together with the ground observations, those two minutes can help provide observations that are only rarely possible. The next solar eclipse will be a partial solar eclipse, visible again from Australia, on May 10, 2013. The next eclipse visible from parts of the Northern Hemisphere will be Nov. 3, 2013.

Karen C. Fox
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

Karen C. Fox | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht 'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region
16.03.2018 | American Institute of Physics

nachricht Fraunhofer HHI have developed a novel single-polarization Kramers-Kronig receiver scheme
16.03.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Nachrichtentechnik, Heinrich-Hertz-Institut, HHI

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>