I came across this video today whilst perusing the ‘space’ section of the internerd. It’s a time lapse video put together from genuine data captured by NASA‘s Solar Dynamics Observatory. It shows a massive sun blast that happened on new years eve 2012 and it looks mighty impressive.
I never know how much of the images in these types of reconstructions are ‘artistry’, and how much of it is genuinely what it would have looked like if you were in the vicinity (not that you’d want to be of course). But I’m willing to suspend my disbelief if NASA have put their name to it, they seem to know what they’re doing.
To give it a bit of scale, the burst of plasma was more than 20 times longer than the width of earth, that’s no mere splash as far as I’m concerned; but as far as NASA’s concerned, this was just a minor eruption. Magnetic forces twisting and shearing caused the plasma to be shot out towards open space but there wasn’t quite enough energy for the spurt to overcome the huge gravitational field of the sun, so it fell back to the surface.
I just like watching it. It’s pretty.
And if you’re in the mood for more solar jiggary pokery, NASA will not disappoint. Here’s a short animation of the interaction of high velocity (400 km/s) solar wind with the magnetic field of Mercury: