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On August 1, 2010, an entire hemisphere of the sun erupted. Filaments of magnetism snapped and exploded, shock waves raced across the stellar surface, billion-ton clouds of hot gas billowed into space. Astronomers knew they had witnessed something big.
It was so big, it may have shattered old ideas about solar activity.
"The August 1st event really opened our eyes," says Karel Schrijver of Lockheed Martin's Solar and Astrophysics Lab in Palo Alto, CA. "We see that solar storms can be global events, playing out on scales we scarcely imagined before."
For the past three months, Schrijver has been working with fellow Lockheed-Martin solar physicist Alan Title to understand what happened during the "Great Eruption." They had plenty of data: The event was recorded in unprecedented detail by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory and twin STEREO spacecraft. With several colleagues present to offer commentary, they outlined their findings at a press conference today at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.
5.1 HALMAHERA, INDONESIA
5.3 SOUTHWEST OF SUMATRA, INDONESIA
5.0 ANDAMAN ISLANDS, INDIA REGION
5.6 SOUTHEAST OF LOYALTY ISLANDS
6.5 MOLUCCA SEA
5.0 OFFSHORE TARAPACA, CHILE
5.1 SUMBAWA REGION, INDONESIA
5.9 KURIL ISLANDS
7.0 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G
6.4 EASTERN NEW GUINEA REG., P.N.G.
5.5 ANDREANOF ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN IS.
6.3 ANDREANOF ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN IS.
5.8 KERMADEC ISLANDS REGION
5.3 JUJUY, ARGENTINA
5.1 PHILIPPINE ISLANDS REGION
Originally posted by predator0187
reply to post by paxnatus
Well, you also have to remember that the aftermath would take a few days to get here. It would be more accurate to look about 2-4 days after the event.
Originally posted by paxnatus
Is there anyone here who can explain the significance of this discovery?
In a paper they prepared for the Journal of Geophysical Research (JGR), Schrijver and Title broke down the Great Eruption into more than a dozen significant shock waves, flares, filament eruptions, and CMEs spanning 180 degrees of solar longitude and 28 hours of time. At first it seemed to be a cacophony of disorder until they plotted the events on a map of the sun's magnetic field.
Title describes the Eureka! moment: "We saw that all the events of substantial coronal activity were connected by a wide-ranging system of separatrices, separators, and quasi-separatrix layers." A "separatrix" is a magnetic fault zone where small changes in surrounding plasma currents can set off big electromagnetic storms.