"Rosetta Stone" Eruption On The Sun Provides Insights Into Solar Explosions


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Powerful solar explosions, like the one observed in 2012 (above), can cause severe disruptions on Earth (Credit: NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory)

Our seemingly calm Sun can have a nasty temper that comes in the form of powerful explosions. The star's unpredictable outbursts can disrupt satellites in orbit and be dangerous for astronauts. Though the flares are well-documented, researchers have never been able to pinpoint the cause of the erratic behavior. Now, the Sun's incredible multi-staged "tantrum" may help scientists get closer to solving the long-standing mystery.

Solar eruptions come in three forms: Coronal Mass Ejections (CME), jets, and partial eruptions. CMEs and jets are both explosive and spew out a large amounts of energy and solar material into space. Partial eruptions start strong but fail to garner enough power for the particles to leave the Sun's surface. Since the events have usually been observed separately, experts were not sure if they were related.

The March 2016 Rosetta Stone solar explosion contained elements of all three solar explosions (Credit: NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory)

But the solar eruption observed in March 2016 had elements of all three explosions! It began with the Sun spewing out scorching solar material that was too large for a jet but too narrow to be classified as a CME. The violent eruptions were followed by a less intense partial explosion in the same location.

NASA researchers, who revealed their findings at the American Astronomical Society meeting on June 7, 2021, say the never-before-seen eruption indicates that all three explosions are triggered by the same mechanism. They speculate that the mechanism also helps reduce the intensity of the explosions in the Sun's corona, resulting in the partial eruption. NASA has dubbed the phenomenon the "Rosetta Stone" solar explosion, after the Egyptian artifact featuring the same script in three languages: hieroglyphics, ancient Egyptian demotic, and ancient Greek.

The failed partial explosion observed in March 2015 (Credit: NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory)

"This event is a missing link, where we can see all of these aspects of different types of eruptions in one neat little package," Emily Mason, a solar scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a statement. "It drives home the point that these eruptions are caused by the same mechanism, just at different scales."

However, Mason and her team are still unsure what causes the eruptions or why some are more explosive than others. Getting to the bottom of that mystery will enable scientists to predict these events hours in advance, providing astronauts, space agencies, and corporations time to take precautionary measures.

Resources: NASA.gov, Business Insider.com

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  • samriddh
    samriddhSunday, August 1, 2021 at 3:22 am
    • pop_song_lover
      pop_song_loverSaturday, July 31, 2021 at 5:03 pm
      This is really cool! I also like how the name is "Rosetta Stone".
      • sweaterweather0
        sweaterweather0Saturday, July 31, 2021 at 2:29 pm
        Wow, that is amazing. I can't belive that! Like if you agree plz 👍
        • scorpina123
          scorpina123Wednesday, July 28, 2021 at 11:41 am
          wow, i once read that the sun will fade away in about 1 million years but this is much cooler
          • judgment11
            judgment11Sunday, August 1, 2021 at 8:14 am
            A bit more and you got it. Not exactly 1 million so you don't have to worry!
          • lollipop_lol4
            lollipop_lol4Thursday, July 22, 2021 at 4:11 pm
            • transformed
              transformedWednesday, July 21, 2021 at 2:54 pm
              • snowflake2001
                snowflake2001Tuesday, July 20, 2021 at 7:19 am
                So cool 🙂
                • uzumaki_chan
                  uzumaki_chanMonday, July 19, 2021 at 9:39 am
                  O....M....GGGG HOW COME FOURTH GRADE NEVER TAUGHT MEEEE I hope fifth grade teaches me this year
                  • wolfy_blue
                    wolfy_blueTuesday, July 27, 2021 at 1:23 pm
                    I never got taught of this in 5th grade :(
                    • lollipop_lol4
                      lollipop_lol4Thursday, July 22, 2021 at 4:11 pm
                      YA I KNOW
                    • ynooj
                      ynoojSunday, July 18, 2021 at 1:52 am
                      Imagine if we live on the sun! LOl!
                      • ssana
                        ssanaSunday, July 18, 2021 at 2:19 pm
                        Lol no it was hot enough today😥😥😥
                        • lollipop_lol4
                          lollipop_lol4Thursday, July 22, 2021 at 4:12 pm
                          • uzumaki_chan
                            uzumaki_chanMonday, July 19, 2021 at 9:40 am
                            TvT yes it was hot enough in Knoxville too
                        • ynooj
                          ynoojSunday, July 18, 2021 at 1:51 am
                          Woah nice 🌞 👍