When we talk about big balls, special mention has to be given to the sun. That flaming orb of gas is probably the largest ball we’ll ever get close to in our lifetime, and it’s a fascinating wonder of science. Now astronomers are discovering that the big ball is blasting off little ones and they’re pretty intense. Read on, my curious friend.
Lots of people had their eye on the sun on Monday when a total solar eclipse passed over areas of the United States. What’s interesting about the eclipse is that it lets us see the sun’s corona – sort of the atmosphere of the star, the field of escaping gases let off by the constant process of solar fusion. Although from Earth the sun typically looks like a calm, stable orb, it’s actually roiling with activity. Where the intense heat of the core meets the icy vacuum of space, it sparks all kinds of phenomena.
The sun’s powerful magnetic field is equally chaotic, and where invisible “ropes” of magnetism break the surface it creates sunspots, flares of solar plasma that typically sink back into the surface. When they don’t, they become coronal mass ejections, free-floating balls of magnetic havoc and plasma that can cause serious damage to anything that crosses their path. Satellites that encounter them need to shift into low power mode to keep from having their circuits fried, and powerful ejections can even penetrate the Earth’s magnetic field to damage electronics on the surface.
Read more at space.com.Get your balls in the game! Donate to the Sean Kimerling Foundation to win the battle against testicular cancer.