Chromospheric Frolics

If I’m perfectly honest, I was procrastinating instead of revising (old habits are hard to break) when I found this video. It’s taken by JAXA’s Hinode spacecraft, one of the satellites currently trained on the Sun.

The dancing wisps are in the Sun’s Chromosphere, effectively the solar atmosphere. They’re animated by local fluctuations in the Sun’s magnetic field. Because it’s all made of plasma, the Sun’s photosphere is constantly creating small magnetic field loops that spring out through the chromosphere. These loops in turn, capture charged plasma and carry it along for the ride. Closer to the Sun’s photosphere (surface) you can see finer, hair-like projections. These are called spicules. First observed in 1877 at the Vatican Observatory, they’re caused by magnetic waves originating deeper in the sun. They look small, but they’re between 3,000 and 10,000 km long. Incidentally, the gas in the Sun’s chromosphere genuinely is this bright red colour. It’s caused by H-α emission from ionised hydrogen gas.

Who ever said science couldn’t be pretty?

About Invader Xan

Molecular astrophysicist, usually found writing frenziedly, staring at the sky, or drinking mojitos.
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