Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Solar 'Conveyor Belt' Runs at Record-High Speeds

This images shows the association of magnetic field with sunspots and coronal loops. It begins with images in "white light" (visible light) from the ESA/NASA SOHO Mission MDI instrument showing the presence of sunspots (darker, cooler regions about the size of the Earth) and the 27-day rotation of the sun. The movie then dissolves to magnetic images from MDI showing how strong magnetic fields are associated with sunspots but weaker magnetic elements are always present and in constant motion. (White represents field directed out of the Sun while black represents field directed into the sun.) The movie then dissolves to images obtained in extreme ultraviolet light by the EIT instrument on SOHO. This reveals the hot coronal loops that are associated with the magnetic features. The movie ends with a zoom-in to a single region which is followed as it rotates across the visible disk of the sun by the extreme ultraviolet imaging instrument on the NASA TRACE spacecraft. This final segment illustrates how the constant motion of the magnetic elements produces impulsive heating of material in the coronal magnetic loops.

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