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Blobs 500 times the size of Earth being burped from the sun



 50th Anniversary Of Mathmos Lava Lamps

Matt Cardy / Getty Images
                                                

The Parker Solar Probe is currently en route to the sun in order to better understand the near perfect sphere of hot plasma that powers our solar system. But back on Earth scientists have looked at decades of old data, and they've found something interesting: blobs. Literal blobs.

Not just regular blobs. Big blobs. Officially called "periodic density structures", these blobs in the solar wind emit from the sun in burps and they can be anything from 50 to 500 times as large as Earth.

"They look like the blobs in a lava lamp," said Nicholeen Viall, a research astrophysicist at NASA / Goddard Space Center, speaking to Space.

Scientists' garden been aware of these lava lamp-esque blobs for decades, but it's only now we're seeing them directly from the source. They were found through a re-examination of 45-year-old data from German-NASA spacecraft Helios 1 and Helios 2 (probes sent to the sun in 1974 and 1976). Using this data PhD student Simone di matteo spotted patterns in data consistent with trails or blobs oozing from the Sun.

The findings were published in JGR Space Physics

Earth's magnetic field must protect us from the impact of these blobs, but they do have the potential to interfere with our satellites and communication systems.

There is much we do not know about these blobs, and one of the many reasons NASA has sent the Parker Solar Probe to the sun was about to learn more about the nature of solar wind and blobs like these "periodic density structures". The Probe recently finished its second close fly-by of the sun and will start filtering data back to Earth.

"This is one of those studies that brought us more questions than we answered, but that's perfect for Parker Solar Probe," said Viall in a statement.

Eventually, NASA is hoping, the probe will get close to catch blobs immediately after their formed, directly from the sun.


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