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Seesaw Filament

Watch the area in the upper left of the Sun’s corona—a laterally oriented structure appears to balance itself above the Sun’s surface for at least two days.  

The structure seemed to fade about halfway through the video, but then reappeared even clearer than before. This solar activity was imaged in a wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light. 

Date: May 26–28, 2015
Instrument: Atmospheric Imaging Assembly
Wavelength: 171 Å (Angstrom: a unit of length used primarily to measure light wavelengths. 1 Å is equal to 0.1 nanometer.)

Credit: Solar Dynamics Observatory/NASA 

Solar Dynamics Observatory:
SDO's Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA):
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Sun's corona....mysterious...isn't it?
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"Hedgerow" Prominence

Rotating into view this week is a long prominence suspended above the Sun’s surface, demonstrating the intricate pushing and pulling of magnetic forces on strands of plasma.  

Prominences are quite unstable and often erupt. Only time will tell how long this one will hold together.  

The images were taken in extreme ultraviolet light.

Date: May 13–15, 2015
Instrument: Atmospheric Imaging Assembly
Wavelength: 304 Å (Angstrom: a unit of length used primarily to measure light wavelengths. 1 Å is equal to 0.1 nanometer.)

Credit: Solar Dynamics Observatory/NASA 

Solar Dynamics Observatory:
SDO's Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA):
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Breathtaking view.
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Bright Filament Eruption

A solar filament extending almost half the Sun's length erupted into space with a large burst of bright plasma (April 28–29, 2015.) 

Both of SOHO’s coronagraph instruments show the coronal mass ejection associated with the eruption. The white circle in the center of the round disk represents the size of the Sun, which is blocked by the occulting disks.  

Solar astronomers around the world had their eyes on this unusually large filament—an unstable strand of plasma suspended by magnetic forces—and were thrilled to see it erupt. 

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Is it heading our way; if so when is it expected to hit
Northern Lights display?
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Filament Burst

During a six-hour period (Apr. 21, 2015,) a bright solar prominence rose up and twisted around, with most of the material falling back into the Sun. At its greatest height, the plume extended to a distance many times Earth’s diameter, allowing numerous amateur astronomers to observe this event with their solar telescopes. The images were taken in a wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light.  

Credit: Solar Dynamics Observatory/NASA 

More from the Solar Dynamics Observatory at
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For #EarthDay2015, see how geophysicists are mapping seismic patterns to study heat generated below Earth's surface. 

As seismic waves from earthquakes pass through the planet, their patterns can reveal hidden dynamics—hotspots, deep-diving rock, melting mantle—in Earth's interior. This Earth Bulletin follows the installation of an array of seismometers across the United States, which is allowing geophysicists to plot revelatory views of the Earth engine deep beneath our feet.

Related Links

EarthScope: US Array/Transportable Array

Science: The Deep Earth Machine Is Coming Together

Science: Geophysical Exploration Linking Deep Earth and Backyard Geology

IRIS: Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology

IRIS PASSCAL: Program for Array Seismic Studies of the Continental Lithosphere

Earth and Planetary Science Letters: Mantle transition zone shear velocity gradients beneath USArray

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We're counting the days until the 25th anniversary of +Hubble Space Telescope's launch on April 24, 2015!

Until then, we'll be posting some of our favorite Hubble stories from the Bulletins archives, culminating in the debut of a new Astro News video about a recent Hubble discovery, co-authored by our scientific advisor +Or Graur

Here's the first of our Hubble Bulletins: Hubble's Deepest Look at Space. In 2009, Atlantis astronauts installed a new camera on the Hubble Space Telescope that spotted the most distant galaxies ever seen in space. Because these galaxies are so far away, their light has taken billions of years to reach Hubble. That means the telescope sees them as they were billions of years ago.

Related Links

NASA: Hubble's Deepest View of Universe Unveils Never-Before-Seen Galaxies 

AMNH Science Bulletins: How Far is Far?
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Really awesome.
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Have them in circles
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Active Regions Galore

About one dozen active regions danced over the Sun’s surface during a five-day period. The overall effect is a graceful ballet of movement. 

Bright strands looping from these regions are particles spinning along magnetic field lines that connect to areas of the opposite polarity.

These images were taken in the 171 Angstrom wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light, and have been tinted red instead of the usual gold to enhance the active regions' visibility.

Date: May 14–18, 2015
Instrument: Atmospheric Imaging Assembly
Wavelength: 171 Å (Angstrom: a unit of length used primarily to measure light wavelengths. 1 Å is equal to 0.1 nanometer.)

Credit: Solar Dynamics Observatory/NASA 

Solar Dynamics Observatory:
SDO's Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA):
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Energy yet untapped?
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Cinco de Mayo X2.7 Flare

The Sun unleashed an X2.7 flare (X class flares are the most powerful) at its left edge on May 5, 2015, shown here in a combination of two wavelengths of extreme ultraviolet light.

A coronal mass ejection (CME) accompanied the flare, blasting a mass of plasma into space. Flares and CMEs are triggered by disruptions of areas on the solar surface with intense magnetic fields.

The video covers about 75 minutes of activity.  

Credit: Solar Dynamics Observatory/NASA 

More from the Solar Dynamics Observatory at
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MESSENGER is scheduled to plunge to its doom today. Its fuel tank empty, the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury will end its 4-year mission by crashing into the planet's surface. The impact is expected to happen at 3:26:02 pm EDT.

MESSENGER's first flyby of Mercury in January 2008 was historic. The last time a spacecraft visited—Mariner 10—was in 1975, and it only mapped half the planet. MESSENGER began its mission by sending back a complete picture of Mercury, shedding light on its geological history. Over the next four years, the mission returned much more than images. Its data on the planet's core, magnetic field, composition, and other attributes is helping scientists answer pressing questions about the evolution of the terrestrial planets and even the Solar System itself.

In this documentary from the Bulletins archives, take a step back in time to the beginning of MESSENGER's mission, and watch the science team react as the orbiter's first images of Mercury roll in. 

More about the anticipated impact location here: 
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Hubble Space Telescope: 25 Years and Counting

Today, one of NASA’s most powerful telescopes reaches a landmark anniversary.

Few of +NASA's telescopes have captured the public imagination like +Hubble Space Telescope, with its spectacular views of distant galaxies, supernovas, and nebulas. The first telescope in the world to return visible wavelength images of space from near Earth orbit, Hubble’s photos are more than just pretty pictures. In its twenty-five year mission, Hubble’s discoveries have transformed astronomers’ understanding of cosmic objects, events, and history. Hubble continues to deliver unparalleled images and help scientists solve some of the biggest mysteries about the forces that shape the universe. 

This Astro Bulletin takes a look at some of Hubble's most important finds, and at one of its most recent—a never-before-seen view of a distant supernova appearing simultaneously in four different positions around a galaxy cluster.


Hubble 25th Anniversary

Hubble Space Telescope | NASA

Hubble Site: The Telescope


Space Telescope Science Institute

Science: Multiple images of a highly magnified supernova formed by an early-type cluster galaxy lens
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Only one more day until +Hubble Space Telescope's 25th Anniversary!  Here's another Hubble video from the Bulletins archives: Hubble Spots Star Factories.

A recent survey of the oldest objects in the Universe has revealed a multitude of dwarf galaxies that are producing stars at a dizzying pace. Using the infrared vision of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers concentrated on two regions, observing 69 galaxies brimming with stars. This unexpected discovery could lead astronomers to reevaluate current theories about how galaxies evolve. 

Related Links

NASA's Hubble Portal

ESA/Hubble News

Cosmic Assembly Near-infrared Deep Extragalactic Legacy Survey (CANDELS)

Extreme Emission Line Galaxies In CANDELS

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Today's +Hubble Space Telescope video from our Astro News archives: Hubble Tracks the Seasons of Pluto.

Several years ago, NASA released images of Pluto taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2002 and 2003. When compared to images from 1994, the new images show distinct seasonal stages in Pluto's 248-year orbit around the Sun.


Buie, M. W., et al. "Pluto and Charon with the Hubble Space telescope. I. Monitoring global change and improved surface properties from light curves." The Astronomical Journal (March 2010).

Pluto image composites, 1994 and 2002–3 (NASA, ESA, and M. Buie [Southwest Research Institute])

Related Links

NASA: New Hubble Maps of Pluto Show Surface Changes

NASA New Horizons Mission
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Wow, when you get a view 'from' Pluto towards the Sun it really puts a lot of things in perspective.  Knowing that it has seasons is interesting.  But that far out, I wonder how "warm" the Summer is compared to the Winter?  Sub-Sub Zero I'm sure.
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Current research about the natural world.

Explore the natural world with Science Bulletins; our documentary Feature Stories, Data Visualizations, and News updates focus on recent discoveries and new technologies in astrophysics, Earth science, biodiversity, and human health and evolution.

Astro Bulletin highlights the scientists, observatories, and technologies that advance our knowledge of the cosmos.

Earth Bulletin reports recent events and discoveries related to Earth's land, oceans, and atmosphere.

Bio Bulletin covers the ever-evolving diversity of life on Earth and our human footprint on the biosphere. 

Human Bulletin explores the science of our species, covering fossil and genetic research on human evolution as well as studies on human health and biology.