This still image was taken from a new NASA movie of the sun based on data from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, showing the wide range of wavelengths – invisible to the naked eye – that the telescope can view. SDO converts the wavelengths into an image humans can see, and the light is colorized into a rainbow of colors.
Colossal spiral-shaped flows of super-hot plasma have been discovered on the sun, completing a nearly 50-year quest to confirm their existence, scientists say. These giant solar plasma spirals — each of which is at least 60,000 miles (100,000 kilometers) wide — could help spark the formation of strongly magnetic regions on the sun that have been linked with solar flares and other sun eruptions, researchers added.
To find extraterrestrial life, be it microbes or intelligent life, scientists need telescopes capable of detecting Earth-like planets in Earth's neighborhood and ways to detect biological signatures of life or signs of alien technology. While some of these tools already exist, astrobiologists asked the U.S. Congress Dec. 4 to invest in the next chapter of the search for life beyond Earth.
"This is the first time in human history we have the technological reach to find life on other planets," Sara Seager, a planetary scientist at MIT, said at a House Committee on Science, Space and Technology hearing today. "People will look back at us as the [generation] who found Earth-like worlds."