Sunday, April 22, 2007

An Angry Blue Sun in Photos of the STEREO Spacecraft

These are false-color photos of solar prominence loops in a magnetically active region of the Sun. The image at the bottom gives a progressive view of solar radiation all the way to Earth's atmosphere. Such radiation can be dangerous since it can disable satellites, disrupt power grids and radio communications on earth and cause intense displays of aurora over the polar regions.

The photos were taken by were taken by a suite of five telescopes on the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) spacecraft, which were launched on October 25, 2006. They will soon provide full awe-inspiring 3D images of the Sun this April.
Scientists have predicted stronger solar storms starting this year with the coming peak of the 11-year storm cycle to be upon us by 2012. "We predict the next solar cycle will be 30 to 50 percent stronger than the last cycle," said Mausumi Dikpati, a solar scientist The last cycle peaked in 2001.

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