Threading the Corona
Top: The magnetic filaments of the sun’s corona, captured at top by Miloslav Druckmüller in a composite of 38 different images during a solar eclipse. You’ll want to see the super-huge version here, trust me. It will change you.
Bottom: “Coronal rain” captured by NASA’s SDO satellite. The superheated coronal plasma is seen traveling along magnetic field lines during a coronal mass ejection.
The corona cooks at over a million degrees Kelvin compared to the relatively frigid 5800 K of the photosphere below it. Exactly why this plasma is so superheated isn’t completely known, but it might be subject to the same kind of magnetic induction as an electric generator. Whatever the cause, the normally invisible lines of the sun’s magnetic field are drawn in brilliant form within the corona, and charged plasma is the paint.
You can get a good look at the solar corona today (right NOW for those catching this post live at 5:30 PM ET on May 9th) during today’s annular eclipse, being broadcast live from the South Pacific by the Slooh Space Camera.
(top image via Colossal)