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Sun Tsunami: Satellite Films Giant Plasma Wave [VIDEO]

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(Photo : REUTERS/NASA/SDO/Handout via Reuters) The bright light of a solar flare on the left side of the sun and an eruption of solar material shooting through the sun’s atmosphere, called a prominence eruption, are seen in this NASA handout image taken June 20, 2013, at 11:15 p.m. EDT (03:15 GMT). A small NASA telescope was poised for launch on Thursday to attempt to determine how the sun heats up its atmosphere to millions of degrees, sending off rivers of particles that define the boundaries of the solar system.

Two satellites have spotted a plasma "tsunami" wave spreading on the surface of the Sun after a a coronal mass ejection, or a release of matter into space.

According to BBC, the tsunami - made up of ionized gas - raced across the sun at 400 kilometers per second. Published in Solar Physicist, this chance encounter offered researchers the opportunity to measure the magnetic field in "quiet" areas, or those not connected to the tsunami. 

Scientists believe the instance may help them in discovering why the Sun's surrounding corona is so much hotter than its surface. Both Japanese satellites took a look at the ultraviolet light from the sun. They discovered EIT shock waves that carry magnetic fields along with hot plasma. 

"These EIT waves are quite tricky - they're very random and they're relatively rare," Dr Long told BBC News. "We need to be in the right place at the right time; this has been a long time coming."

The team was able to effectively determine the strength of the magnetic field in the "quiet corona." "This tells us a lot about the nature of the Sun and what goes on in the atmosphere," Dr Long said. "These waves are quite important because they're associated with CMEs that fire plasma out into the heliosphere, toward the Earth."

Click here to see the video of a tsunami on the Sun's surface

 

 

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