Visualization of the Sun's Invisible Magnetic Field
Most of us can appreciate the Sun and all its complexities, but there is a lot going on with the big ball of gas and plasma that goes unnoticed. To help clear up some of the mystery, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) recently shared the video above, which explains the Sun's magnetic field lines through the use of a computer model.
"The Sun is a beautifully magnetically driven star, but we can't actually see magnetic field lines," explains the video's narrator, GSFC solar physicist Holly Gilbert. "They're essentially invisible, and so we have to turn to models in order for us to see the global magnetic structure of the Sun."
The model in the video—which was created using a vector magnetograph, according to Nerdist—shows the magnetic activity of the Sun over the course of four years. Using color-coded lines to represent open magnetic field lines that extend far into space and others that loop out and back into the Sun, the visualization spotlights the sun's activity. The result is a psychedelic dancing orb that is both fun to watch and informative.
Knowledge of the star's magnetic structure is crucial for scientists. It helps researchers better understand things like solar storms, the fields of radiation that spacecraft travel through, and what the GSFC refers to as "space weather on Earth," Gilbert explains.
Head to GSFC's website for more about the study of the sun's magnetism.
Banner image via NASA Goddard on YouTube