Dark matter is five times more abundant than regular matter in the universe. Everyday matter familiar to us, for example in tables and chairs, planets and stars, is only a sliver of what's out there. While dark matter has been indirectly detected through its gravitational pull, its composition remains unknown. It's a long shot, say scientists, but NuSTAR may be able spot axions, one of the leading candidates for dark matter, should they exist.
The axions would appear as a spot of X-rays in the center of the sun. Meanwhile, as the sun awaits future NuSTAR observations, the telescope is continuing with its galactic pursuits, probing black holes, supernova remnants and other extreme objects beyond our solar system.
This 04 November, image shows giant sunspot lower-R unleashing another powerful solar flare. Ionizing radiation hit Earth's atmosphere soon after the explosion and caused a severe radio blackout, which radio listeners noticed across North America. Solar flares can damage satellites and have an enormous financial cost.
Astronauts are not in immediate danger because of the relatively low orbit of this manned mission. They do have to be concerned about cumulative exposure during space walks.
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The charged particles can also threaten airlines by disturbing the Earth's magnetic field. Very large flares can even create currents within electricity grids and knock out energy supplies.
Dark Is The Sun
A positive aspect, from an aesthetic point of view, is that the auroras are enhanced. Geomagnetic storms are more disruptive now than in the past because of our greater dependence on technical systems that can be affected by electric currents. The images comes weeks after warnings that Earth could be hit by a series of damaging solar flares after the largest sunspot to be seen on the star for 24 years aligns with our planet. The sunspot, previously known as Active Region , began facing Earth in October but did not produce any coronal mass ejection CMEs.
CMEs are the most energetic events in our solar system, involving huge bubbles of plasma and magnetic fields being spewed from the sun's surface into space. Magnetic fields in sunspots can store vast amounts of energy, but looping magnetic field lines can get tangled up and snap, releasing their energy as explosions called flares.
According to Dr Gilbert, the sunspot is still large enough for 10 Earths to fit inside it, and is believed to be the 33rd largest of 32, active regions recorded since The Jupiter-sized sunspot produced six eruptions in October and early November, before disappearing for two weeks. Earlier this year, Ashley Dale, who is a member of an international task force, dubbed Solarmax, warned that solar 'super-storms' pose a 'catastrophic' and 'long-lasting' threat to life on Earth. A solar superstorm occurs when a CME of sufficient magnitude tears into the Earth's surrounding magnetic field and rips it apart.
Earth could be about to be hit by a series of damaging solar flares as a huge sunspots aligns with the planet. Such an event could induce huge surges of electrical currents in the ground and in overhead transmission lines, causing widespread power outages and severely damaging critical electrical components.
Dark Of The Sun
Mr Dale, carrying out doctoral research in aerospace engineering at Bristol University, said it is only a 'matter of time' before an exceptionally violent solar storm is propelled towards Earth. He says such a storm would wreak havoc with communication systems and power supplies, crippling vital services such as transport, sanitation and medicine. Without power, people would struggle to fuel their cars at petrol stations, get money from cash dispensers or pay online,' he said. The largest ever solar super-storm on record occurred in and is known as the Carrington Event, named after the English astronomer Richard Carrington who spotted the preceding solar flare.
However, its impact on the human population was relatively benign as our electronic infrastructure at the time amounted to no more than about , miles , km of telegraph lines. As always, we hope for good luck, and clear skies. Explore further. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.
Read the original article. More from Astronomy and Astrophysics.
Flights Into the Foreign
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The Dark of the Sun
An eruption in action can be seen in the bottom-left. Sunspots on September 1, , as sketched by Richard Carrington. A and B mark the initial positions of an intensely bright event, which moved over the course of five minutes to C and D before disappearing. Aurora Borealis over Tromso, Norway. Some of the scientific instruments built and prepared by an international team of scientists led by Prof Shadia Habbal University of Hawaii to observe eclipses.
Credit: Shadia Habbal, Author provided. Provided by The Conversation. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission.
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