Mar 7th: Tiny Explosions Pack a Mighty Punch

By on March 7, 2019 in
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Podcaster: Richard Drumm

Title: Space Scoop: Tiny Explosions Pack a Mighty Punch

Organization: 365 Days Of Astronomy

Link : astrosphere.org ; http://unawe.org/kids/unawe1903/

Description: Space scoop, news for children. 

The Sun tells its story in layers of light, each layer reveals what’s happening at different depths and temperatures. For example, the sunlight that we see is mostly from the Sun’s visible surface or photosphere, which is about 6,000° Celsius or 10,000° F.

Bio: Richard Drumm is President of the Charlottesville Astronomical Society and President of 3D – Drumm Digital Design, a video production company with clients such as Kodak, Xerox and GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals. He was an observer with the UVa Parallax Program at McCormick Observatory in 1981 & 1982. He has found that his greatest passion in life is public outreach astronomy and he pursues it at every opportunity.

Today’s sponsor: This episode of 365 days Of Astronomy is sponsored by Erich Stenzel.

Big thanks to our Patreon supporters this month: Frank Tippin, Brett Duane, Jako Danar,  Joseph J. Biernat, Nik Whitehead, Timo Sievänen, Steven Jansen, Casey Carlile, Phyllis Simon Foster, Tanya Davis, Rani B, Lance Vinsel, Steven Emert.Immerse yourself in the web of life under a symphony of starlight in Costa Rica with Paul Sutter. Check it out at: http://astrotours.co/365days

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Transcript:
This is the 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast. Today we bring you a new episode in our Space Scoop series. This show is produced in collaboration with Universe Awareness, a program that strives to inspire every child with our wonderful cosmos.

Tiny Explosions Pack a Mighty PunchMar

  • The Sun is like an onion.
  • Oh. It stinks? Like a volcano?
  • No
  • I know. Because it brings tears to your eyes when you slice it!
  • No.
  • Oh, you leave ’em out, they turn black, sprout white hairs. Like you, going all grey!
  • No. It’s layers. The Sun has layers. And an onion has layers.
  • You know, I don’t like onions.– [Sigh]

The Sun tells its story in layers of light, each layer reveals what’s happening at different depths and temperatures. For example, the sunlight that we see is mostly from the Sun’s visible surface or photosphere, which is about 6,000° Celsius or 10,000° F.

Then there’s the layer that emits a particular red color of light that we call hydrogen alpha light. There are popular solar telescopes that you can buy which are tuned to this one particular color of light.

But there’s much more going on outside the bounds of the colors of our vision. For instance, X-ray light reveals the hottest and most exciting events happening on the Sun. 

Here there be interesting physics!

You may have heard of solar flares but have you heard of nanoflares?Nanoflares are small but powerful eruptions that take place all the time, in the atmosphere of gas surrounding the Sun.

These explosions send particles from the surface of the Sun flying into space at crazy speeds. According to some astrophysicists, they’re responsible for heating the Sun’s atmosphere to an insane one million degrees Celsius or almost 2 million Fahrenheit!

Studying nanoflares requires a sort of X-ray vision and scientists around the world have been working hard to develop the best tool for the job. The end result is a small, but very smart, sub-orbital sounding rocket called the Focusing Optics X-ray Solar Imager, or FOXSI.

FOXSI is designed to take short trips above the Earth’s atmosphere for a quick peek from space before falling back to the ground. FOXSI is the first solar mission to use direct focusing optics in such a high energy range, rather than the indirect imaging methods of the past.

Last year, the little rocket travelled 300km above the Earth for six minutes, to stare directly at the Sun. During its trip it took the clearest pictures of the Sun’s corona that we’ve ever seen!

Astronomers are checking these new so-called soft X-ray photographs to see how they can help our study of nanoflares.

Hey Here’s A Cool Fact:“Nano” normally means something is “very small”. Even though a typical nanoflare is smaller than a normal solar flare, it has the same energy as 240 megatons of TNT. 

That’s like 10,000 atomic bombs detonating all at once!

Boom!

Thank you for listening to the 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast!

End of podcast:

365 Days of Astronomy
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The 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast is produced by Planetary Science Institute. Audio post-production by Richard Drumm. Bandwidth donated by libsyn.com and wizzard media. You may reproduce and distribute this audio for non-commercial purposes. Please consider supporting the podcast with a few dollars (or Euros!). Visit us on the web at 365DaysOfAstronomy.org or email us at info@365DaysOfAstronomy.org. This year we will celebrates the Year of Everyday Astronomers as we embrace Amateur Astronomer contributions and the importance of citizen science. Join us and share your story. Until tomorrow! Goodbye!

About Richard B. Drumm

Richard Drumm is President of the Charlottesville Astronomical Society and President of 3D – Drumm Digital Design, a video production company with clients such as Kodak, Xerox and GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals. He was an observer with the UVa Parallax Program at McCormick Observatory in 1981 & 1982. He’s found that his greatest passion in life is public outreach astronomy and he pursues it at every opportunity.

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