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NASA Space Science

STEREO Satellites Spot Solar Flare Tsunami 89

westtxfun writes "The STEREO satellites recently confirmed the existence of solar mega-tsunamis when they captured height data after a sunspot recently erupted. The scale of this tsunami literally dwarfs the Earth's diameter — it was 62,000 miles high and raced across the surface at 560,000 mph! STEREO A and B orbit 90 degrees apart and luckily, one was overhead while the other saw the eruption on the limb. This gave NASA scientists enough data to confirm the tsunami wasn't a shadow, solving a modern solar mystery. The images are simply stunning, to boot."
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STEREO Satellites Spot Solar Flare Tsunami

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  • that will hit the earth's core and cause the plates to shift like in 2012?

    • No, but it might be a sign that our sun is dying, and that we need to send Cilian Murphy and a nuclear bomb the size of Manhattan into the sun's core to reignite it.

      • I'll buy that for a dollar!
      • Only if instead of Cillian Murphy, we can put the transport on auto-pilot, and fill it politicians.

        Their collected hot air should be enough to get things rolling again.
  • Surf's up (Score:5, Funny)

    by Darth Sdlavrot ( 1614139 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @12:15PM (#30226922)


    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by MoralHazard ( 447833 )

      Who the hell modded this "offtopic"? Waves, surfing, hello?

      I swear, some of the responses and mod decisions I've been seeing on Slashdot lately make me wonder whether people are browsing in their sleep.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        The average IQ of a moderator these days sits somewhere between a sea sponge and a dog turd.

        • by imamac ( 1083405 )
          Does anyone else see the irony of this being modded "Insightful"?
        • The average IQ of a moderator these days sits somewhere between a sea sponge and a dog turd.

          Hey! Why are you insulting dog turds?

          • Why is he insulting sea sponges? At least they multicellular organisms.

            And arguably more sensuous and useful than moderators.
            • Damn straight - sponges hold 25 times their weight in water. Imagine how much waterfront land would be flooded if it wasn't for the sponges! They could be the key to combating higher water levels from global warming!
            • How dare you insult the intelligence of moderators? I have mod points, and I'm going to mod you down right now!

        • Sure, but Slashdot still facilitates the best discussion on the net.
          But I think in general as people grow up and find better things to do they move on. So it's always going to be broken because the best people move on.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by jbezorg ( 1263978 )
        Someone with mod points and an agenda to "clean up slashdot"? Half-life and Portal references were modded "offtopic" on the recent LHC article. Or maybe someone is just modding random comments following the order of the mod selection dropdown. "offtopic" for the first comment, "flamebait" the second, "troll" the third...
        • It seems that 'redundant' is the current theme here though. Why? I don't know, probably somebody who can't surf.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Finally Norrin Radd [] has a chance to prove he's not just a poseur. I mean, seriously, has anyone actually seen him surf anything?!
  • The article speaks about a 100,000 km high (62,000 mile high) tsunami. Assuming that they are referring to the initial height of the surface wave, that is no doubt a typo since the sun's diameter is only 14 times that. Likely, they meant something rather less such as 100,000 m or 100 km. That's still a big wave though.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Just correcting the summary, one spacecraft is *ahead* of the other (and of Earth) -- not "overhead". Also, they don't orbit 90-deg apart. They were ~90-deg apart for the even in question but are currently 127-deg apart. This value will increase as they continue in their orbits around the Sun. (By Feb 6, 2011 they will be 180-degrees apart, and will both be "behind" the Sun in ~mid-2015.)

  • Solar wave? (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    You imbeciles, clearly they are a series of solar particles!

  • 120, not 90 (Score:4, Informative)

    by necro81 ( 917438 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @12:41PM (#30227220) Journal
    A correction from the summary: the two spacecraft are nearly 128 degrees apart, not 90. They were launched into slightly different heliocentric orbits [] that cause the angle between them to increase by about 21 degrees per year. They've already passed through the L4 and L5 Lagrangian points [] of the Sun-Earth system. In Feb 2011, they'll be on opposite sides of the Sun, then start to converge once again.
  • FTA:

    "We wondered," recalls Gurman, "is that a wave—or just a shadow of the CME overhead?"

    Really? They thought it was a shadow? And what pray-tell would be shining brightly enough from above the CME material, to cast a shadow onto the surface of the Sun?

    They didn't really think that through, did they?

  • by Taibhsear ( 1286214 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @12:43PM (#30227246)

    Anyone else see the gifs and think "BOOM! HEADSHOT!"

  • From the article :

    The twin STEREO spacecraft confirmed their reality in February 2009 when sunspot 11012 unexpectedly erupted

    Since when does 9 months ago count as 'recent' ?

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      Since when does 9 months ago count as 'recent' ?

      Get off my lawn!

      • by oneiros27 ( 46144 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @01:48PM (#30228078) Homepage

        Actually, I confirmed it with one of the scientists (Joe Gurman) cited in the article -- there was an article from March that was inaccurate, and this was a correction to that previous article.

        But, instead of marking it as a correction, it was posted as a new article. (I can't find the older article, so I don't know if it was removed)

        They also linked straight to the movie, rather than to the explanation of what is being seen in the movie, or cite the original posting of the article, which had different images: [] []

        Joe also said that this was in fact "tsunami-like" in that it was the result of an initially downward wave that reflected back up, as opposed to other CMEs.

        (and I probably should've added a disclaimer earlier -- I work for the STEREO Science Center)

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          (and I probably should've added a disclaimer earlier -- I work for the STEREO Science Center)

          I'm sorry, this is /. Primary sources are not allowed to be involved in the conjectural, ad hominem disputes that pose for debate on this forum. You are welcome to contribute to some other topic, provided that you know nothing about it. Have a nice day.

    • Geologic time?
  • Shadows? (Score:2, Troll)

    by Java Pimp ( 98454 )

    "We wondered," recalls Gurman, "is that a wave—or just a shadow of the CME overhead?"

    Shadows on the surface of the sun?

    Must have been light from Venus reflecting off some swamp gas...

  • I am going to investigate of if China is building Arc ships
  • by gyrogeerloose ( 849181 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @01:02PM (#30227460) Journal

    For the sake of us amateur radio operators, I sure hope so. HF DX has sucked for the last few years.

  • Large CME? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by IGnatius T Foobar ( 4328 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @01:12PM (#30227596) Homepage Journal
    Wait a minute. Wasn't a CME this big supposed to completely destroy the power grid? [] Wasn't this supposed to plunge us back into the stone age? []

    So what happened?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by JRManuel ( 30967 )
      It depends. If the CME is headed toward the Earth, it could. Otherwise, no. CMEs are like shotgun blasts: a lot of scatter, but you still have to aim the gun in the right direction.
    • The earth made its reflex save, duh.

      Did it occur to you the Coronal Mass Ejection might not be pointed at us?
      • The earth made its reflex save, duh.

        Good thing too because the CME receives a huge bonus to damage based on the target's intelligence score.

    • by Trogre ( 513942 )

      Haven't you been keeping up? These days it's all about mutating neutrinos and microwaving the earths core.

      Popcorn, anyone?

  • Well, at least STEREO proved that phrase wrong.

    We now know the Sun boils and splashes like a pot of hot chili on a stove. Now, who's going to clean up the cosmic stove top of all the solar splatters?

  • Hey Poindexter! (Score:3, Informative)

    by paiute ( 550198 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @01:51PM (#30228124)

    It's tsunamis, not tsunami's.

  • "Stardate 2322.1, Captain's log, Stereo A, Linux commanding. After three years, I have completed my first assignment as master of this vessel, cataloging gaseous planetary anomalies in Alpha Quadrant. We're continuing our mission under full gravitational power. I'm pleased to report that ship and programming have functioned well."

    *starts a cronjob*



    "Sir, we're getting a massive energy reading, dead ahead!"

    "On screen!" ...

    "My...God! Shields! SHIELDS!

  • "packing as much energy as 2400 megatons of TNT"

    That seems a bit low, doesn't it? Only two orders of magnitude more than what we've produced in a single nuke explosion?

  • Am I the only one who, upon reading "Solar Flare Tsunami", said it in the delivery of some overpowered fighter yelling his attack out:


Never say you know a man until you have divided an inheritance with him.