Solar Tsunami Revealed in New Photo By SPACE.com Staffposted: 06 August 2010 05:46 pm ET
A vivid new photo of the sun has revealed a new view of a solar eruption in the star's northern hemisphere that blasted charged particles in Earth's direction this week, according to NASA officials.
The solar storm, which NASA called a "solar tsunami" in a Friday statement, occurred Aug. 1. It was a Class C3 solar flare in which almost the entire Earth-facing side of the sun erupted in a wave of tumultuous activity. [New solar tsunami photo.]
The solar particles began striking Earth's magnetic field Tuesday and sparked a powerful 12-hour geomagnetic storm and spectacular aurora displays. The flare was not powerful enough to pose a radiation threat to astronauts living on the International Space Station, NASA officials have said.
This new multi-wavelength extreme ultraviolet photo from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the sun in mid-eruption.
The flare is visible as the white area on the upper left, and the ensuing solar tsunami is the wave-like structure in the upper right. Magnetic filaments can also be seen coming off the surface of the sun.
The different colors in the image represent different temperatures of gas.
The eruption, called a coronal mass ejection, was spotted by NASA'sSolar Dynamics Observatory , which captures high-definition views of the sun at a variety of wavelengths. SDO was launched in February and peers deep into the layers of the sun, investigating the mysteries of its inner workings.
Analysts believe a second solar flare could come on the heels of the first flare, and could re-energize the fading geomagnetic storm and spark a new round of bright aurora displays.