Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2011 September 25
Explanation: Tsunamis this large don't happen on Earth. During 2006, a large solar flare from an Earth-sized sunspot produced a tsunami-type shock wave that was spectacular even for the Sun. Pictured above, the tsunami wave was captured moving out from active region AR 10930 by the Optical Solar Patrol Network (OSPAN) telescope in New Mexico, USA. The resulting shock wave, known technically as a Moreton wave, compressed and heated up gasses including hydrogen in the photosphere of the Sun, causing a momentarily brighter glow. The above image was taken in a very specific red colour emitted exclusively by hydrogen gas. The rampaging tsunami took out some active filaments on the Sun, although many re-established themselves later. The solar tsunami spread at nearly one million kilometres per hour, and circled the entire Sun in a matter of minutes.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.