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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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  • But... (Score:5, Funny)

    by langelgjm ( 860756 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @10:18PM (#22947398) Journal
    No sound? Lame...
    • Re:But... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by evanbd ( 210358 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @10:26PM (#22947444)
      What would it sound like, anyway? It's a pressure wave, aka a sound wave (mostly, there's apparently magnetic effects involved too), but really loud. Really, really loud. But, that sharp rise and fall in pressure has a definable sound to it. I'm sure someone will do a better job than I can, but I think it would sound a lot like a "pop" but with tonality to it -- it's not a sharp-edged delta function, but rather a bandpass-filtered version of one. It looks from the scale, though, like it's a very low frequency wave -- well into the subsonic regime. You wouldn't so much hear it or even feel it as get blown back and forth by it. Well, neglecting that detail about the energy levels involved. Suffice to say that overpowered stereo your neighbor has wouldn't come close...
    • by Somegeek ( 624100 ) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @12:40AM (#22948164)
      "Where's the Kaboom? There was supposed to be an Earth-shattering Kaboom!"
    • No sound? Lame...
      Forgot the sound. Why wasn't it in 3D? From the article:
      "The event was captured by Nasa's twin Stereo spacecraft designed to make 3D images of our parent star."
  • by reboot246 ( 623534 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @10:20PM (#22947408) Homepage
    Probably caused by global warming. Everything else seems to be.

    (tongue in cheek)

  • ...we can't find one on Earth in time to warn people about it.
    • 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.
  • Gosh... (Score:3, Funny)

    by kclittle ( 625128 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @10:21PM (#22947416)
    I hope no one was hurt.
  • What?!?! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Idiot with a gun ( 1081749 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @10:25PM (#22947440)
    I missed an opportunity to surf the greatest wave ever?
  • Special Effects (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @10:26PM (#22947448) Homepage Journal
    That movie is pretty cool, but only if you use a lot of imagination, which defeats the point of the movie (except for scientists).

    I always like movies of the Sun a lot better when they accurately show how gauzy the Sun actually is, because it's really a ball of gas, not as solid as pictures like that show. Some color, and some of the stars beyond shining through, all make these movies of the Sun hanging in space look a lot cooler, and a lot less like peering through a microscope.
    • by yorugua ( 697900 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @10:34PM (#22947514)

      That movie is pretty cool
      I can't agree. I'd say it's very hot.
    • Re:Special Effects (Score:5, Interesting)

      by orangepeel ( 114557 ) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @12:44AM (#22948184)
      I'm the same way. One of the things that gives me pause is when a publication states that something is "hotter than the surface of the sun."

      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?

      I assume that somewhere at the sun's core you've got some type of phenomenally wacky material, and from there on out you're just looking at an energized soupy plasma that just gets progressively less and less dense. Even if you get to some point where somebody decides the pressure suddenly becomes worthy of "surface" status, it's still not going to be anything like a surface in the minds of most normal humans. The "surface" is roiling, boiling, and exploding with astronomical energies non-stop. That seems to me like trying to describe an exploding can of aerosol cheese as a cohesive solid, and I dare say we all know from experience how ridiculous that would be.

      To me, referring to the surface of the sun seems akin to invoking the question, "what's the length of the coastline of England?" My answer would be, "on what scale?" But I seem to be the only one who feels that way, so perhaps I'm just in the dark over something. Has someone figured out some cool relationship between the gravitational ability of the sun to hold on to its own matter compared with the average energy of a certain layer of plasma or something? I don't know. I never hear it talked about. All I ever hear is that simple phrase, "the surface of the sun," used in article after article ... like it's so damn obvious and how much of a moron I must be to stumble over it every time.

      Sometimes I suspect that someone, somewhere, with god-like precision simply declared one day, "no, this distance outward from the core represents the surface, and fuck you if you doubt me".

      • 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: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.
          • Citation?

            • Somewhere in Kip Thorne's book, Black Holes and Time Warps. I'm not going to flip through it right now to give a page number.
              • According to my old astrohysics textbooks, you are off by an a few orders of magnitude.

                In the sun, its about 1 million years.
                You can calculate it as a simple random walk in a medium with an absorption gradient
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Doc Ruby ( 173196 )
        While you're right about the Sun's surface being a largely statistical boundary, and not at some specific radius like on a solid planet (which is also an approximately fractal distance, as your coastline example suggests), and not at all like the oversimplifications often pictured and vaguely described, there is such a thing. It's a chaotic surface, like a stormy sea, but there is a boundary where the Sun's plasma meets the vacuum of space, into which the Sun blasts solar wind (including protons, electron/b
        • It occurs to me that what you're describing is very much like the concept of "sea level." There's no such thing, of course -- at any point on any coast, the water level is constantly changing as waves come in; on a smaller level, the air above the water is always filled with spray while the water near the surface is filled with bubbles. And yet we have no problem averaging all this out and coming up with a measurement for sea level that's precisely defined down to (at least) the level of a foot. So if yo
      • by pjt33 ( 739471 )

        That seems to me like trying to describe an exploding can of aerosol cheese as a cohesive solid, and I dare say we all know from experience how ridiculous that would be.
        I regret to say that I don't have any experience of exploding cans of aerosol cheese. Do I have to hand in my geek card now?
      • Your comment about coastlines is actually more relevant than not.

        Just like the coastline depends on the measuring stick you use, the concept of a surface depends on some measuring stick in Cartesian space.

        Just look at "The Fractal Geometry of Nature" by Benoit B. Mandelbrot to see more info.

        The surface of the sun is more of a 3D+ construct since it cannot be precisely defined.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Alamais ( 4180 )
      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
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Doc Ruby ( 173196 )
        I'm thinking of, for example, this NASA image of the Sun [] (blasting a jet right through the Earth back in 2003).
        • Those "stars" you see are not stars -- they are one of two things:

          1) Image artifacts
          2) particles of solar wind/high-energy waves hitting the recording instrument.
          • How can you be sure?
            • How can you be sure?

              Because there's no way stars can shine through the Sun. Direct from Wikipedia []:

              The solar interior is not directly observable, and the Sun itself is opaque to electromagnetic radiation.

              Still don't believe me? Take a look at this video []. It clearly shows that there are no "stars" initially, but after the flare reaches the satellite, the "stars" suddenly appear. (SOHO is the satellite, the instrument is the EIT, or Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope)

    • by AJWM ( 19027 )
      I always like movies of the Sun a lot better when they accurately show how gauzy the Sun actually is, because it's really a ball of gas, not as solid as pictures like that show.

      I guess I have to congratulate you on finding several moderators stupid enough to mod that up insightful.

      Yeah, the sun is a ball of gas -- a million miles in diameter and with enough pressure in the middle to not only cause fusion but to hold it in by gravitational pressure alone.

      "Gauzy" my butt.
      • I guess I have to dis you in return for being stupid enough to thing the entire Sun [] is solid. Congratulations - you can't handle fuzziness.
        • by AJWM ( 19027 )
          You need to improve your reading skills; nowhere in my post did I use the word "solid", or any synonym thereof. (That meant "or any word that means the same thing as solid", in case you were confused.)
  • by 4D6963 ( 933028 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @10:27PM (#22947458)
    Oh shit, how long until the wave reaches us?!?
    • ~6 days given the 1 million km/h speed given to us by the article.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Just wait until Mercury and Venus jump up and throw their hands in the air, then we're next. Don't mis-time it and spoil things for everybody else!
  • The first? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @10:27PM (#22947460)
    I don't mean to be picky, but this is from the front page:

    BigBadBus writes "The BBC is reporting that NASA's twin spacecraft designed to obtain stereo images of the Sun have recorded the first Solar Tsunami."

    Did you mean "the first footage of a solar tsunami", perhaps?
  • I'm gonna wax up my board and be ready for the next one.
  • by Revenger75 ( 1246176 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @10:31PM (#22947490)
    Let's go mega-surfin' Dude! It will be rad(iation)! I'll bring the 3.0x10^8 SPF sunblock, you bring the Unobtainium surfboards, and Cowboy Neil will bring the beer.
  • Surf's Up (Score:1, Redundant)

    by zakeria ( 1031430 )
    just make sure you bring the sun block!
  • SNAP (Score:4, Funny)

    by cpricejones ( 950353 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @10:41PM (#22947550)
    Your momma is so fat when she steps into the ocean her ripples cause a tsunami ... ON THE SUN
  • If it isn't the HOTTEST thing ever, I don't know what is.
  • Holy cow (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    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???
    • by armanox ( 826486 )
      Nope, I got them too. And it's not Apr 1 anymore either...
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Kalriath ( 849904 ) *
      Yes, they've changed the whole discussion system again. And yes, the new system sucks even more than the old one. Which sucked considerably, compared to the even older one. You get the idea.
      • I don't see why, IMO this looks better than the old system, and it's easier to see threads of comments...
        • by mortonda ( 5175 )
          Yeah, it makes more sense to me. hey, this drop down edit box is snazzy.
        • by pjt33 ( 739471 )
          I found it easier to see threads of comments with the old version. The indentation used on this page appears to be about 10 pixels, which when the parent is collapsed and not wrapping the child in its border isn't enough for me to easily distinguish. It's better than the first AJAX-enabled version, but I would prefer to have the older, green, style's indentation.
      • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

        by greenguy ( 162630 )
        Gonna have to disagree with you. I like it a lot, though I would have used a single-pixel border and square buttons, just to save on vertical space. But a visual manifestation of the way comments relate to each other is a welcome change!

        And, it also appears to be AJAX-driven, which makes it fully buzzword-compliant.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dotancohen ( 1015143 )
      I got them too. At first I thought that the boxes were cool because it would help find the parent threads, but that just isn't the case. If the old discussion system was akin to block separation by indentation (python), then the new system is akin to XML's close-tag requirement. In other words, visually messy and confusing. Maybe if the blocks were colour coded for depth it would be easier, but I find myself doubting that as I type it.

      And I do like the "you must preview before you post" requirement, as /. d
    • by PPH ( 736903 )
      The /. server must have been damaged by cosmic rays from s large solar event.
  • Kinda lame (Score:4, Insightful)

    by shird ( 566377 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @11:43PM (#22947860) Homepage Journal
    This might be an event on some otherwise quiet planet. But given the Sun itself is a gigantic ball of freakin' fire, with solar flares and enough UV to cause cancer in people on other planets, a bit of a wave doesn't seem quite as impressive.
  • 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: (Score:1, Insightful)

      How about Massive Magnetically Propelled Solar Pressure Wave? This way we can sound really smart to other people without making any sense whatsoever.

      Or we could just stick to terms that everyone can understand that also sufficiently describe the phenomenon.

    • 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.
      Or maybe even a Ra-gasm []
    • Sorry, it's much too late to correct this. Since like 2006. It even has a scientific definition now.

      We're just not going to start describing giant waves Taiyounamis or Ra-tasms, the word Tsunami is here to say.
  • Dang it, someone is going to have to update the Wiki [] for Tsunami and change the definition.

    A tsunami is a series of waves created when a body of water, such as an ocean, or a giant ball of burning hydrogen, is rapidly displaced.
  • If you call Cisco for support on a faulty device they may claim cosmic radiation caused the problem. (I only mention this as it has happened to me before).
    No more stories about solar flares and tsunamis please! You are just giving tech support more excuses!

    - I'll take my sig with a glass of single malt.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      You forgot to put this in your configs.

      Router#config t
      Router(config)#no sunspot degradation

      If you had put this in you wouldn't have these issues. Sunspot interference is turned on by default. But after you disable it, the case acts like a Faraday Cage so you won't have to worry about pesky radiation interfering with your lan/wan operations.

      In reality though, I suppose Cisco equipment does have some stuff enabled yet not configured by default that I would rather it not.
  • And what did this administration do? George Bush hates Sun people.
  • Do they see any concentric circles emanating from a glowing red dot?

    Typically concentric circles are followed by at least a row of little human figures.
  • Freaking tsunami of fire!? That is the most awesome thing I've ever heard of. If I don't see a movie in the next two years with a kick-ass tsunami of fire clobbering people... I'm going to be really sad. Steven Spielberg - this is right up your alley. I'm counting on you.

    P.S. Don't try and give me some fireball or some weak wave crap either. I want to see a tsunami of fire roll over a city. That is win.
  • I would have worded it "Tsunami Tspotted on the Tsurface of the Tsun".

  • You know, if you stare at it head-on, it'll burn your eyes out...
    • So you can get a real close look, like Galileo did with the early telescope.

      Just tell somebody to knock them out of your hands what the hair on the back of your head starts to smoke.

It is not for me to attempt to fathom the inscrutable workings of Providence. -- The Earl of Birkenhead