News archive

News archive

A sunspot turns out to be a kind of whirlpool, where hot gas near the Suns surface converges and dives into the interior at speeds of up to 4000 kilometres per hour. This is the latest discovery by the ESA-NASA SOHO spacecraft.
Published: 5 November 2001
The world's astronomers now have access to amazing details about the invisible ultraviolet light from the Sun, thanks to a new 'spectral atlas' prepared with the SUMER instrument on the SOHO spacecraft. It shows bright emissions at more than 1100 distinct wavelengths, more than 150 of which were not recorded or not identified before SOHO. The atlas is being presented today at an international meeting of astronomers, by Werner Curdt of Germany's Max-Planck-Institut f|r Aeronomie, the lead laboratory for the SUMER instrument.
Published: 31 July 2001
The first solar eclipse of the new millennium was enjoyed yesterday by thousands of observers in southern Africa. As tourists and residents enjoyed one of Nature's most impressive sights, it was business as usual for SOHO.
Published: 22 June 2001
Scientific teams going to Africa for the total solar eclipse, on 21 June, will rely on the ESA-NASA SOHO spacecraft to show them the Sun's weather during the event.
Published: 18 June 2001
When Spain's Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias reported on 28 July 2000 that an ordinary-looking comet was breaking up, some of the world's top telescopes watched its subsequent disintegration till nothing was left. The French-Finnish SWAN instrument on the SOHO spacecraft had already been observing Comet LINEAR by ultraviolet light for two months, and continued to watch it till the remnants faded from view in mid-August. Today the SWAN team reports, in the journal Science, that their observations showed four major outbursts in June and July.
Published: 18 May 2001
Anyone troubled by storms on the Sun will now have an extra week's early warning of eruption risks, by courtesy of the SOHO spacecraft. Teams in France and the USA have found two different ways of detecting activity on the Sun's far side, before it swings into view from the Earth. SOHO's SWAN instrument sees ultraviolet rays sweeping like a lighthouse beam across interplanetary gas beyond the Sun, while the MDI instrument peers right through the Sun to locate hidden sunspots and their active regions. From today, both teams are making their observations available routinely to everyone, including the forecasters of space weather.
Published: 27 April 2001
An angry Sun fired off another powerful X-class flare on Tuesday, 10April. X-class flares are the most powerful classification, andthis flare, rated X-2, was the most recent in a series that includedan X-20 flare, one of the most powerful flares in 25 years. Aneruption of electrified gas, called a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME),was observed shortly after Tuesday's flare and is heading our way.Depending on the orientation of the magnetic field carried by the CMEcloud, it may cause a magnetic storm when it impacts the Earth's ownmagnetic field.
Published: 12 April 2001
On Monday 2 April at 23:51 Central European Time (21:51 UT) the Sun unleashed a major solar flare near its northwestern (upper right-hand) side. Originally classified as an X17 flare, it has now been upgraded to X20, and appears to be the biggest flare yet on record. Monday's flare is the strongest flare since 16 August 1989 when the last X20 flare occurred and is certainly more powerful than the famous 6 March 1989 flare which was related to the disruption of the power grids in Canada. The event was well observed by the ESA-NASA SOHO spacecraft.
Published: 5 April 2001
Last night at 23:51 Central European Time (21:51 UT, 2 April) the Sun unleashed a major solar flare near its northwestern (upper right-hand) side and the event was well observed by the ESA-NASA SOHO spacecraft. It was classified as an X17 flare, probably the strongest flare since 16 August 1989 when an X20 flare occurred. It was slightly more powerful than the famous 6 March 1989 flare which was related to the disruption of the power grids in Canada. The latest event hurled a coronal mass ejection into space - but apparently not towards the Earth, so the impacts will probably be less severe.
Published: 3 April 2001
A comet that fell into the Sun on 7 February was tracked by twodifferent instruments on the ESA-NASA SOHO spacecraft, enablingscientists to characterize it quite precisely. This was just one ofnearly 300 comets discovered by SOHO since 1996, thanks mainly to theprivileged view of the sky around the Sun given by the visible-lightcoronagraph LASCO. On this occasion SOHO's ultraviolet coronagraph UVCSalso observed the comet repeatedly. It gave valuable additionalinformation, both about the comet and about the solar wind close to theSun.
Published: 22 February 2001
In celebration of the birthday of its most diligent watcher,the Sun has let loose an unusual and quick-fire series of eruptionsduring the past few days. Saturday will be the 5th anniversary of SOHO'slaunch into space, on 2 December 1995.
Published: 29 November 2000
A programme to monitor large numbers of stars resembling the Sun couldgive a new perspective on solar effects on the Earth's climate,according to Eugene Parker of the University of Chicago. He was summingup the conference on "The Solar Cycle and Terrestrial Climate" held lastweek on the Spanish island of Tenerife (25-29 September). Two hundredsolar and climate scientists from many countries part in the meeting,which was sponsored by the European Union and the European Space Agency.
Published: 2 October 2000
Are variations in the Sun's brightness an important cause of climate change? Could changesin the Sun's magnetism affect the Earth's clouds? Why do temperature trends in the lower atmosphere give a different impression of global warming from measurements at ground level? The latest results from spacecraft that observe the Sun and the Earth provoke many such questions. They will be debated next week on the Spanish island of Tenerife, where scientists who calculate climate change due to manmade greenhouse gases will meet others who argue that solar effects have been underestimated.
Published: 20 September 2000
This release is issued today by the press office for the International Astronomical Union's General Assembly.Safe operation of the International Space Station depends on timely warnings of eruptions on the Sun, Dr Paal Brekke will tell a meeting of the International Astronomical Union in Manchester, UK. On 11 August he will report on the race between the Sun's capacity to harm high-technology systems, and the ability of space scientists to warn engineers and astronauts of bad weather in space, due to solar storms. Dr Brekke is a Norwegian solar physicist serving as the European Space Agency's Deputy Project Scientist for the ESA-NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, SOHO, which is now the world's chief watchdog for outbursts on the Sun.
Published: 3 August 2000
Several of ESA's scientific spacecraft play starring roles in a remarkable new widescreen IMAX movie entitled 'Solarmax', which received its world première at London's Science Museum yesterday.
Published: 29 June 2000
An exhibition on 'The Sun - our star' opened at the Norwegian Technical Museum in Oslo on 22 June. The exhibits include 1:4 scale models of the SOHO and Cluster II satellites as well as several metres of panels with information on the science from these ESA missions. The ESA SOHO CD-Rom can be viewed interactively by the visitors and SOHO real-time pictures are displayed continuously.
Published: 26 June 2000
Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and the Sun all appear in the same imagesent to Earth today (15 May) by the SOHO spacecraft. The picturewith four planets is another scoop for SOHO. Venus entered the scenefrom the right on 13 May, while Mercury was on its way out on the left.
Published: 15 May 2000
For followers of Nostradamus, this is a chance to relish. What better time than the year 2000 - prelude to the new millennium -- to predict all sorts of catastrophes driven by celestial objects? And the planets, jointly taunting the doomsayers, have chosen to dance together before their eyes. Mars, Jupiter and Saturn clustered for the first time on 6 April, within a circle 9 degrees wide. On 14 April, they gathered again in a 5-degree circle. And last month's dance was just a prelude to this month's fiesta. On 5 May, Mercury, Venus, the Moon and the Sun join in too, grouping in a circle of 26 degrees.
Published: 4 May 2000
Currents of gas deep inside the Sun pulsate like the blood in human arteries, speeding and slackening every 16 months. Solar scientists are astonished by this discovery. It comes from an international team pooling observations from the MDI instrument on the ESA-NASA SOHO spacecraft and from a worldwide chain of ground stations called GONG. Rachel Howe and her colleagues announce their results in the 31 March issue of the journal Science.
Published: 3 April 2000
Stunning images and movies of the stormy Sun are included in ESA's newCD-ROM "SOHO: Exploring the Sun". The material comes from four years'observations of the Sun by the ESA-NASA SOHO spacecraft since its launchat the end of 1995. The CD-ROM is organized by subjects in an easy-to-use format.Nearly 200,000 copies are being distributed to the readersof several astronomy and space magazines, with the April 2000 issues ofAstronomy Now (United Kingdom) and Orione (Italy), and the May issuesof Ciel et Espace (France) and Sterne und Weltraum (Germany).
Published: 16 March 2000
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