Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


NASA Releases IRIS Footage of X-class Flare


On Sept. 10, 2014, NASA's newest solar observatory, the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, mission joined other telescopes to witness an X-class flare – an example of one of the strongest solar flares -- on the sun. Combing observations from more than one telescope helps create a much more complete picture of such events on our closest star. Watch the movie to see how the flare appears different through the eyes of IRIS than it does through NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory.

The movie shows IRIS imagery focused in on material at around 60,000 Kelvin (107,500 F), which highlights a low level of the sun's atmosphere, called the transition region. IRIS can zoom in on the transition region with unprecedented resolution.

Two views of an X-class solar flare on Sept. 10, 2014. IRIS focuses on the lower regions of the sun's atmosphere, while the SDO imagery shows a region that is hotter and typically slightly above that.

Image Credit: NASA/LMSAL/Wiessinger

The imagery on the right side is from SDO. The movie shows material at about 600,000 Kelvin (1,080,000 F), which highlights material typically higher up in the atmosphere in what's called the corona, (Although in a dynamic event such as a flare, hot and cold material often occur at the same heights.)

The IRIS video clearly shows a dark sunspot in the upper right, a magnetically complex  region observed on the sun's surface. SDO, on the other hand, shows what's happening above that – giant magnetic loops rise up off the surface. 

As the flare begins, crisp bright lines show up moving across the IRIS data, showing where material begins to be heated with the onset of the flare. Some of this imagery appears in the SDO side as well, but so do many other features and brightenings.  It is only by comparing the two movies that one can tease out what's happening at the lower temperatures – likely to be in the lower atmosphere – versus what is happening higher up.

IRIS must commit to pointing at certain sections of the sun at least a day in advance, so catching these eruptions in the act involves educated guesses and a little bit of luck. So far, IRIS has seen two X-class flares, and numerous M-class flares – X-class flares are the strongest flares, while M-class are a tenth as strong. These observations have offered some of the first comprehensive observations of what happens in the transition region during a flare.

Lockheed Martin’s Solar & Astrophysics Laboratory in Palo Alto, California, designed and manages the IRIS mission. NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, provides mission operations and ground data systems. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the Explorer Program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C.

Related Links

  For more information about IRIS, visit:

  For more on the Sept. 10, 2014 flare, visit:

  To download the high-resolution video, visit:

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

Susan Hendrix | Eurek Alert!

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Novel light sources made of 2D materials
28.10.2016 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA
27.10.2016 | University of Oklahoma

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: Novel light sources made of 2D materials

Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.

So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Steering a fusion plasma toward stability

28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Bioluminescent sensor causes brain cells to glow in the dark

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Activation of 2 genes linked to development of atherosclerosis

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>