The sun is one of the big reasons we are all here today. Without it, life probably wouldn’t have taken root on Earth ̵
Starbursts are common. These events are presented as a rapid release of energy, often throwing charged particles into space, and sometimes on planets, including ours. We know that they exist and we have seen them in action, but the events that take place on the surface of the Sun are only the end result of basic processes that are not well understood. This latest observation is different in that it is a clear multi-stage eruption with three separate steps. That, NASA says, could help scientists better understand how these solar flares occur.
NASA and its scientists first observed the unique eruption in March 2016. Like many things in science, the collection of observations and the actual understanding of what has been captured has been happening over the years. The outbreak study will be published in Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Researchers call the event the “Rosette eruption” a nod to Rosetta’s famous stone. According to them, this burst is a tool for understanding how stellar eruptions occur and the progression from one stage of eruption to the next.
NASA offers some context:
Sun eruptions usually come in one of three forms: coronal mass ejection, jet ejection, or partial eruption. Coronal mass ejections – CME – and jets are both explosive eruptions that throw energy and particles into space, but look very different. As the jets erupt like narrow columns of solar material, CMEs form huge bubbles that expand, push out, and sculpt from the Sun’s magnetic fields. Partial eruptions, on the other hand, begin to erupt from the surface, but do not cause enough energy to leave the Sun, so most of the material falls back onto the solar surface.
The eruption, which occurred on March 12 and 13, 2016, was observed for the first time as a discharge of material on a hot spot of the Sun, which is an active area on the surface of the star. The event fell somewhere between a jet and CME, but what happened right after that was the most interesting. A second eruption occurred at the same location, pushing another layer of material out of the star. However, it was not powerful enough to blow the material into space and was pulled back to the surface as a partial eruption.
This is important because it reveals that a mechanism is probably responsible for jets, CME, and partial eruptions. Knowing that these three different stellar phenomena are related is a big deal, and it should help Sun researchers look for the causes of all three.
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See the original version of this article on BGR.com