"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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63 Comments
  • phantasticgus
    phantasticgusFriday, July 16, 2021 at 12:44 pm
    so cool!
    • frostwolf192
      frostwolf192Thursday, July 15, 2021 at 11:13 am
      🤩 you guys can go to the sun and probably get toasted so I suggest we stay on earth
      • hankc
        hankcWednesday, July 14, 2021 at 9:17 pm
        I would want to visit the sun to see it in front of me
        • christmastree20
          christmastree20Sunday, July 18, 2021 at 4:46 am
          You cant
          • artty
            arttyThursday, July 29, 2021 at 6:18 pm
            You can get on a spaceship and look at the sun. The sun would be super bright tho so, you shouldn't but, you can.
            • dgdance
              dgdanceFriday, July 23, 2021 at 10:53 am
              He can in his mind
          • purplepearls
            purplepearlsWednesday, July 14, 2021 at 3:34 pm
            Amazing! I like learning about space!
            • thepenguingirl
              thepenguingirlTuesday, July 13, 2021 at 3:51 pm
              this is weird
              • howls
                howlsMonday, July 12, 2021 at 3:30 pm
                So this is why its so hot?.........
                • artlover200
                  artlover200Sunday, July 18, 2021 at 3:59 pm
                  I mean not to mention that the sun is actually a giant ball of fire and lava so yup, and scientifically I believe that it would take more than millions of years for the sun to cool down, and that's when the world will need to worry but luckily that won't happen for a while now 👩‍💻🌲
                  • coachella
                    coachellaMonday, July 19, 2021 at 5:01 pm
                    Actually the sun is a big star so ya. ⭐
                • galaxy527
                  galaxy527Sunday, July 11, 2021 at 11:52 pm
                  Very Interest I hope scientist figure out what causes the eruptions 🤩❤️
                  • 134goodgrl
                    134goodgrlSunday, July 11, 2021 at 2:17 pm
                    What I am getting from this viedo is that along with the 3 types,there's a fourth type of solar eruption
                    • bamagirl13
                      bamagirl13Sunday, July 11, 2021 at 7:23 am
                      I love Science, Space and the Sun so this is REALLY COOL for me!!!
                      • nerdbird_61
                        nerdbird_61Sunday, July 11, 2021 at 7:15 am
                        My grandfather made me each some video about it a few weeks ago.luckily he lives in New Mexico and not in Texas!It was like A MILLION DIGRESS out side back home there it was like seventy- five digress!😊