The sun must be having a good day. Could it be because it just ate a comet?
Via NASA’s Solar Dynamics Laboratory Web site, here’s a series of recent images unveiling the sun’s radiant face – at different wavelengths.
What are the dark splotches painting eyes and a mouth onto the sun’s simmering surface? These are known as coronal holes. They are areas where very little radiation is emitted, but the main source of solar wind (charged particles released from the sun).
The brighter, surrounding areas are known as “hot active regions” which produce solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) – brief bursts of solar wind.
It turns out, the sun has been in an excited state in recent days. It has unleashed several flares and CMEs.
In fact, it expelled a coronal mass ejection just as a sun-grazing comet was taking a death plunge towards its crackling surface.
Watch the video, courtesy SpaceWeather.com, below:
Watch carefully. You can see the comet entering the right bottom part of the image at around 22:00 (on 8/19). The CME (the outward blast you see starting around 23:00) intercepts it at around 00:00 (the next day, 8/20) Shortly thereafter, the comet disintegrates.
Here’s another video of the CME interception of the comet, but in slow motion, courtesy Tom Yulsman: