Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


NRL Researchers View the Sun in 3-D

Beginning on February 6, 2011, the two STEREO spacecraft are 180 degrees apart providing Naval Research Laboratory scientists with a 360-degree view of the Sun. NASA's STEREO (Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory) spacecraft were launched on October 25, 2006, and have been gathering spectacular images of solar activity, especially solar storms, since the mission began.

A key component of the STEREO mission is NRL's Sun Earth Connection Coronal and Heliospheric Investigation (SECCHI), a suite of five scientific telescopes that observe the solar corona and inner heliosphere from the surface of the Sun to the orbit of Earth.

Cartesian projection of the entire solar atmosphere as observed by NRL\'s SECCHI EUV telescopes at a temperature of 1.6 million degrees. The lower panels show the individual images from each telescope and the middle panel shows the geometric configuration of the STEREO spacecraft at the time the images were taken. SECCHI acquires such full maps of the sun every 10 to 20 minutes.

These unique observations are made in "stereo" by the two nearly identical solar-powered STEREO observatories with one observatory ahead of Earth in its orbit and the other trailing behind. The two observatories trace the flow of energy and matter from the Sun to Earth. The instruments aboard STEREO reveal the three-dimensional structure of coronal mass ejections, the powerful eruptions of plasma and magnetic energy from the Sun's outer atmosphere, or corona.

SECCHI Project Scientist and NRL researcher, Dr. Angelos Vourlidas, explains the significance of this opportunity for the 360-degree view of the Sun, "for the first time, we can take snapshots of the entire atmosphere of a star. To put it in perspective, before STEREO we were like a person trying to get the pulse of a city by watching through a half-open window - not an easy task. Now, STEREO has thrown wide open the window and we can watch the Sun and its activity in its full three-dimensional glory." Each STEREO telescope sees half the Sun at a time. By combining the two views, NRL researchers can map of the entire solar atmosphere continuously.

Before the three-dimensional view was available, researchers had to wait until an active region rotated across the visible-from-Earth disk in order to study the properties. The problem of having to wait for the proper views to appear is that the corona is highly variable, filled with regions that come and go in a matter of days and explosions that can alter the corona landscape in a matter of hours.

With this capability of a three-dimensional view of the Sun, Vourlidas sees the potential for advances in the field of heliophysics. "We can solve the puzzles behind the evolution and structure of the solar atmosphere, including its violent eruptions, because we will be able to observe every feature and source of activity at the same time all over the Sun and follow their connections that can extend to large distances around the Sun," he explains. This opportunity for the STEREO spacecraft to view the Sun in three-dimension will be available for the next eight years.

STEREO is the third mission in NASA's Solar Terrestrial Probes Program. STEREO is sponsored by NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Goddard Science and Exploration Directorate manages the mission, instruments, and science center. The Johns Hopkins University applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md., designed and built the spacecraft and is operating them for NASA during the mission.

Donna McKinney | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Move over, lasers: Scientists can now create holograms from neutrons, too
21.10.2016 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

nachricht Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus
20.10.2016 | The Henryk Niewodniczanski Institute of Nuclear Physics Polish Academy of Sciences

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: 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...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

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

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>