Big Bear Solar Observatory: Solving Sunspot Mysteries
In the past 10 years, our understanding of sunspot phenomena has been greatly enhanced. But we're still in the dark about how sunspots "self-organize". Consensus in the astrophysics community is that there are no external forces on the Sun that could hold these planet-size magnetic structures together, so are they generated by their own induced forces? This short article (2014) explains what we DO know and how high-definition imaging helps scientists model sunspot formation.
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Solar Dynamics Observatory: Two Weeks in the Life of a Sunspot
Whaaat?? The sun rotates? Many students (and adults) are unaware of this. This 90-second video shows a half rotation of the sun as it tracks "two weeks in the life of a sunspot", captured from July 5-17, 2017. Most of the movie shows the sun in the extreme ultraviolet wavelength range, in which it's easy to view the sun's rotation. You'll also see inset images captured in the visible light range, clearly showing the sunspot but not the rotation. Teachers: This video will help your students understand that sunspots don't move across the sun like a car on a highway. They only appear to "move" because of the sun's rotation and the reference frame of the imaging equipment taking pictures onboard the SDO spacecraft.
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Solar Dynamics Observatory: How SDO Sees the Sun
It's been almost a decade since NASA's SDO was launched into space. The mission: provide views of the sun in detail never before possible. SDO instruments can collect images of the sun in 13 different wavelengths, each of which gives us a uniquely stunning view. For example, three wavelengths detect coronal flares with great detail. A few can detect magnetic loops in sunspots with clarity. One instrument specifically detects magnetic field polarity; another detects surface movement. Check 'em out!
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NASA Goddard Space Flight Center: Understanding the Magnetic Sun
Click here to see incredible computer models of the sun's magnetic field. "We're not sure exactly where in the sun the magnetic field is created," says Goddard space scientist Dean Pesnell. But getting a handle on what drives that magnetic system is critical for understanding the nature of space throughout our entire solar system. We can see the magnetic loops in Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) imaging and also with magnetographs, which measure strength & direction of magnetic fields. This tutorial could work very well as a flipped lesson.
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NASA Poster: How Space Weather & Solar Storms Affect Earth
This web page provides a free poster-size image that shows how space weather events such as solar flares affect technologies on Earth and man-made satellites based in space. Teachers: Note that the magnetic fields of some sunspots create "prominences" which can cause a solar flare. During solar maximum (when the number of sunspots is greater), there are more space weather events.
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