Thursday, January 21, 2010

Coronal Loops

Photograph courtesy NASA
Magnetism made visible: That describes virtually every feature on the sun, from sunspots to these soaring structures, called loops. Loops easily reach the height of ten Earths. Energy generated by the dynamics of smaller loops is likely the source of the solar corona's mysterious heat. The superheated gases that form the sun, mainly hydrogen and helium, exist in an electrified state called plasma. Below the surface, plasma can push and drag magnetic field lines. But when lines are strong enough to arc out, wildly conductive plasma follows.(

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