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While almost everyone knows about the tsunami, that refers to destructive waves of the sea, the news of solar tsunami heading towards Earth has left the world jittery of the relatively new and unknown phenomenon.

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It has suddenly grabbed the attention of the inhabitants of the third planet from the sun as the news of the waves heading towards earth hit the headlines on Tuesday, Aug 3.

However, there is nothing to worry about as the consequences and effects of solar tsunami would just be limited to blackouts, disruption in communication systems and a rather desirable effect of brighter auroras or the northern lights.

Scientists have assured that the tsunami poses no direct threat to earth and life on the planet. Besides, they are rejoicing the fact that this tsunami will help them study the phenomenon better.

Over the years there were several discoveries of what is now known as the solar tsunami. When solar physicists first saw it, they did not trust their senses, said a NASA article titled Mystery of the Solar Tsunami—Solved.

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“It rose up higher than Earth itself and rippled out from a central point in a circular pattern millions of kilometers in circumference. Skeptical observers suggested it might be a shadow of some kind—a trick of the satellite’s eye—but surely not a real wave,” it added.

It was only in Feb 2009 that NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) confirmed existance of Solar Tsunamis when sunspot 11012 erupted unexpectedly.

Facts

– Solar tsunami is a tsunami-like shock wave that forms on the Sun

– These waves generally roll across the hot surface of the Sun destroying or sweeping away filamentary material

– These waves are infrequent yet very powerful

– Technical name ‘fast-mode magnetohydrodynamical wave’. It is also referred to as ‘MHD wave’

– It is also called Moreton wave

History of the discovery

– First discovered in May 1997 by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO).

– In May 1997, a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) came blasting up from an active region on the sun’s surface, and SOHO recorded a tsunami rippling away from the blast site. However, SOHO’s single point of view was not enough

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– The questions in connection with the first sighting of the wave as well as those followed remained until NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) was launched

– The breakthrough happened at the time of the Feb 2009 eruption when the twin STEREO spacecraft got images from directly over the blast site (STEREO-B) and from a right angle (SETREO-A)

– Physical reality of the waves was ascertained by movies of the waves crashing into things

    Posted in : Science and Technology

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