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Space Science

Tsunami Spotted on the Surface of the Sun 164

BigBadBus writes "The BBC is reporting that NASA's twin spacecraft designed to obtain stereo images of the Sun have recorded a Solar Tsunami. The feature includes a fascinating movie of the images captured."
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Tsunami Spotted on the Surface of the Sun

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  • Holy cow (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @11:33PM (#22947810)
    Ok, did anyone else see these dark grey "Reply to This" and "Parent" buttons start appearing in Slashdot [v.D1] sometime in the last few minutes, or am I just tripping again???
  • Correction (Score:3, Informative)

    by relikx ( 1266746 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @11:57PM (#22947922)
    I believe Solar Tsunami is a bit of a misnomer. As tsunami literally translates to 'harbor wave' a more accurate name would be Taiyounami or perhaps Ra-tasm.
  • Re:Special Effects (Score:5, Informative)

    by palndrumm ( 416336 ) * on Thursday April 03, 2008 @12:58AM (#22948258) Homepage

    I always ask myself a question whenever I read or hear that line: what surface? Where the heck do you define the "surface" in the case of a star?
    Obligatory Wikipedia Reference []:

    "The visible surface of the Sun, the photosphere, is the layer below which the Sun becomes opaque to visible light."

    So there you go. Not something I'd ever really thought about either to be honest, but I guess someone at some point has.
  • Re:Special Effects (Score:2, Informative)

    by Alamais ( 4180 ) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @12:59AM (#22948270)
    Hmm...while, yes, the sun is (mostly) made up of gasses, it is still very dense, so I don't know that 'gauzy' is the right word. It's dense enough for fusion to take place in the core, and for the photons that are the energy thus released to take thousands of years to reach the surface. Not solid, but certainly no morning fog, either.

    The little bit you might be able to see through is just the very upper atmosphere (probably gaps under prominences and CMEs), and the best views of that kind of stuff aren't in visible light anyway, since the sun is brightest in visible light, and tends to overwhelm instruments and eyes. For an image in other wavelengths, I don't know that it's stars you're seeing (could just be image artifacts), and the color is false anyway.

    I've been studying this stuff for class, and this really is a cool movie & event in its own right. I mean, judging from the article, this wave was moving at close to .2% of light speed, which is quite fast. A tsunami on Earth moving that fast would sweep across the surface in a little over a minute. Boom.
  • Re:And yet... (Score:5, Informative)

    by pclminion ( 145572 ) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @01:14AM (#22948336)
    I assume you are referring to the Asian tsunami. The problem wasn't that we couldn't find it in time, but that the warning systems were not in place to alert people once this information was known. This is not a breakdown of science, but of government.
  • Re:Special Effects (Score:5, Informative)

    by pclminion ( 145572 ) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @01:17AM (#22948346)
    Photons which are generated at the core of the sun, where fusion is occurring, can take tens or hundreds of millions of years to reach the surface (and by that time, they have been thermally absorbed and re-emitted so many times it's hard to even call them the same photons). It might be a big ball of gas, but star matter is also one of the most opaque substances commonly occurring in the universe, due to the enormous density.
  • Re:But... (Score:3, Informative)

    by evanbd ( 210358 ) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @02:39AM (#22948716)
    Huh? We're talking about measuring the solar wind, ie interplanetary vacuum. As in, positioned at a distance comparable to Earth's orbit. The instrument in question would be more like a particle detector than a microphone or pressure gauge. (IANA astrophysicist.)
  • Re:But... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Front Line Assembly ( 255726 ) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @07:56AM (#22949732)
    Here are apperently some links: []

    Doesn't sound like rocks grinding to me...

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson