Pick of The Week
 
 

Long Distance Loops (November, 21 2002)

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  • The linkage of active regions far from each other via their magnetic field lines is very striking in this extreme ultraviolet image of the Sun (20 November 2002). The lengthiest and most unusual linkage (marked "A") stretches across about one third the face of the Sun, which would be about 300,000 miles (500,000 kilometers). In the second instance (marked "B"), field lines from a region on the right side reach back around to an active region, marked by the coils of magnetic loops above it, just around the edge of the Sun. The length of that reach, though harder to determine, is almost as long as "A". Also, large loops of charged plasma clearly rise up and arc back down to the active region at the higher of the two "A" arrows.

    In a low-density but highly ionized gas (or "plasma") such as the Sun's outer atmosphere, the magnetic field rules: charged particles must spiral around closely aligned, loop-like magnetic fields. The closed magnetic loops originate in bright "active regions" in this image of 1 million K material in the lower corona. The blue Sun (171) images ionized iron at 1 million degrees C.

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