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  solar fireflies
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what have we learnt about fireflies?

 

Fireflies are small, hot, bright points which show up in X-ray radiation from the solar atmosphere. Fireflies are formed when the Sun's magnetic field changes and magnetic energy is transferred into other forms of energy such as heat and radiation. They change very rapidly. Sometimes they get too twisted up and the amount of energy in them becomes so great that they explode.

 

They seem to be scattered all over the Sun. If we can understand fireflies, we may be able to understand why the corona is so hot and how it is heated. Fireflies may be tiny on a solar scale, but what we can learn by studying them could be very important.

 

You can see more movies in our Gallery   [Movie file 1mb or more - High quality]

Here is a four-part movie of a solar firefly. The top left movie shows the firefly in ultraviolet radiation as seen with TRACE. The top right frame shows the firefly in H-alpha. The bottom two frames show the temperature (left) and density (right) of the firefly. The temperature and density of the firefly increase as it evolves before it explodes.

 

     
You can see more movies in our Gallery   [Movie file 1mb or more - High quality]

Here's an ultraviolet movie of the corona taken by the EIT instrument on board the SOHO satellite. See how the Sun seems to sparkle like diamonds - those are my fireflies.

 
 

This is what I’ve found out so far...

  • They sometimes appear to have wings or look like tubes of glowing plasma.

  • Sometimes they explode and suddenly disappear.

   

 

   
 
 

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