Despite significant advances in instrumentation and thermal materials to withstand exorbitant radiation levels near the Sun, many agree that we don’t know enough about the Sun.
Per radioactive dating, the Sun is roughly 4.6 billion years predating all other celestial bodies in our system. However, fundamental changes in the Sun’s processes and energy can dramatically impact Earth’s and space’s weather, even more so as we increasingly depend on electricity and technology for modern life and space exploration.
On Thursday, December 14, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured one of the largest solar flares ever recorded. These solar events are explosive bursts of electromagnetic radiation near sunspots traveling near at the speed of light. They develop due to the nuclear processes fusing hydrogen nuclei into helium. The mass lost during the nuclei merge is the Sun’s energy source, which radiates outward as heat and light, enabling life to thrive on Earth. Sunspots are darker and cooler areas because the Sun’s magnetic fields resist and slow gas rising to the surface.