Magnetic loops on the Sun, left, imaged by the Solar Dynamics Observatory on 18 July, 2012, are processed, right, to highlight their structure. Credit: NASA/SDO/Goddard Space Flight Cente

Solar probe untangles riddle of flux ropes

By Paul Sutherland
02 February 2013

(Sen) – A NASA space telescope has finally confirmed to solar scientists the processes that produce massive explosions on the Sun. A flare on 18 July, 2012, allowed the Solar Dynamics Observatory to watch the development of a sequence of events that led to a classic eruption termed a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME).

The pattern observed supported a theory that the scientists had long thought to be responsible – the formation of something termed a flux rope as magnetic field lines in the Sun’s corona began to twist about, generating a coil of the hottest material on the Sun, a charged gas called plasma.

The flux rope was seen to form following an initial fairly small blast of light spotted off the lower right limb of the Sun. Often such flares are accompanied by CMEs, but this one was not which allowed developments to be observed in detail.

Read more: Solar probe untangles riddle of flux ropes — Sen.

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