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Sun tsunami provides first accurate magnetic fields reading

Rather than wreaking havoc, this fiery tsunami helped to provide scientists with the first estimates of the sun's magnetic field.

solar tsunamiEnlarge
A so-called solar tsunami allowed scientists to make the first reliable estimates of the Sun's magnetic field ever recorded. (Handout/AFP/Getty Images)

It turns out that the sun is also experiencing some extreme weather these days, with a recent solar tsunami rolling around our star.

Rather than wreaking havoc, this fiery tsunami helped to provide scientists with the first estimates of the sun's magnetic field.

The massive solar wave was spotted by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) and the Japanese Hinode spacecraft.

Solar tsunamis are caused by an explosive reaction in the sun's atmosphere that sends waves traveling across its surface at about 500 miles per hour. The so-called coronal mass ejections (CMEs) eventually launch into space.

How the tsunamis move is determined by what stands in their way, as well as the magnetic fields at work.

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This particular solar event let explorers record the sun's magnetic field, providing the first seemingly accurate estimate, using a combination of spectral and imaging observations.

The team also used the data they recorded to measure the density of the solar atmosphere.

"We've demonstrated that the sun's atmosphere has a magnetic field about ten times weaker than a normal fridge magnet," said David Long of the UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory, in a statement.

"These are rare observations of a spectacular event that reveal some really interesting details about our nearest star."

Thankfully, Earth is protected from those sun tsunamis that launch towards it by using the planet's own magnetic field. The same can't be said for satellites that happen to get in their way.

The study was published in the journal Solar Physics.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/science/130711/sun-tsunami-provides-first-accurate-magnetic-fields-reading