Living in the Sun’s atmosphere

Last night we had a rather fascinating talk here at the University of Birmingham by Dr Lucie Green (of the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, UCL) all about the Sun. She described in great detail how we have more questions about the Sun than answers and showed some quite marvellous images of the large magnetic structures on the surface of the Sun and how this effects us here on Earth. The Sun produces huge and powerful eruptions called coronal mass ejections, which throw masses of charged particles into space with explosive force. Some of these inevitably reach the Earth, creating beautiful aurora in the polar skies, but also with the potential to wreak havoc with our telecommunications and electricity networks. Here is an image of one of the largest solar flares on record (an X20 xray flare):
solar flare
At 21:51 UT, Monday 2 April 2001, active region 9393 unleashed a major solar flare. Now reclassified as at least an X20. Credit: SOHO
The talk was part of our very successful tea, talk and telescope programme, for more information check out [our website].

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