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Monster Waves on the Sun are Real

November 30, 2009
clipped from
ago, when solar physicists first witnessed a towering wave
of hot plasma racing along the sun’s surface, they doubted
their senses. The scale of the thing was staggering. 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 eye—but surely not a real wave.
we know,” says Joe Gurman of the Solar Physics Lab at
the Goddard Space Flight Center. “Solar tsunamis are
twin STEREO spacecraft confirmed their reality in February
2009 when sunspot 11012 unexpectedly erupted. The blast hurled
a billion-ton cloud of gas (a “CME”) into space
and sent a tsunami racing along the sun’s surface. STEREO
recorded the wave from two positions separated by 90o, giving
researchers an unprecedented view of the event:

see caption

A solar tsunami seen by the STEREO spacecraft from orthogonal
points of view
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