Skip to comments.'Big Bird' on the Sun Spotted in Spacecraft Photo
Posted on 06/02/2012 9:47:29 AM PDT by Excuse_My_Bellicosity
A new photo from a NASA sun-watching spacecraft highlights a huge solar feature that looks a lot like the beloved Big Bird from the children's television show "Sesame Street."
The image, snapped today (June 1) by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) probe, actually shows a so-called coronal hole an area where the sun's corona, or outer atmosphere, is dark. But the resemblance to Big Bird, or one of his feathered kin anyway, is uncanny.
"I can't get over how much this looks like Big Bird but it is a coronal hole on the sun," reads a Twitter post today by Camilla Corona SDO, the spacecraft's rubber chicken mascot.
The rubber chicken's Twitter feed is part of NASA's social media outreach efforts. Officials pasted a picture of the "Sesame Street" character next to the 'Big Bird' coronal hole for comparison.
The image of Big Bird on the sun is an example of pareidolia, which is the tendency of the human brain to recognize animals or other prominent shapes in vague or random images. This view of an elephant's head on Mars is another example.
Coronal holes are associated with "open" magnetic field lines, which extend out into interplanetary space rather than arc back to the solar surface. Coronal holes are often found near the sun's poles, Camilla added, and the high-speed solar wind a stream of charged particles flowing from the sun's upper atmosphere is known to originate in them.
The super-speedy solar wind from the 'Big Bird' coronal hole will reach Earth between June 5 and June 7, Camilla said.
After remaining relatively quiet for several years, the sun has entered an active phase of its 11-year solar cycle, firing off a number of strong flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) huge clouds of solar plasma in the past several months.
CMEs that hit Earth inject large amounts of energy into the planet's magnetic field, spawning potentially devastating geomagnetic storms that can disrupt GPS signals, radio communications and power grids for days, researchers say. These storms can also super-charge the northern and southern lights, generating brilliant shows for skywatchers at high latitudes.
Experts think the current cycle, known as Solar Cycle 24, will peak in 2013.
The $850 million SDO spacecraft launched in February 2010. The probe's five-year mission is the cornerstone of a NASA science program called Living with a Star, which aims to help researchers better understand aspects of the sun-Earth system that affect our lives and society.
You can follow SPACE.com senior writer Mike Wall on Twitter: @michaeldwall. Follow SPACE.com for the latest in space science and exploration news on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.
Gah! These scientists and their fancy-schmancy language!
Looks like Obama burning in hell!
Looks like an Arrogant Bustard (see my profile page for picture)
The Chicken Cornhola.
Standby for Phoenix Rising celebrations. The Bilderbergers might already be naked and dancing.
Blue, blue windows behind the stars,
Yellow moon on the rise,
Big birds flying across the sky,
Throwing shadows on our eyes.
I'd start to get concerned if we see more of these "Big Birds"...
Looks more like a roadrunner standing still.
Wow, that’s amazing. Definitely looks like a bird of some kind. And it looks like he’s in big time pain, which is fitting for a bird in the roaster.
I caught a roadrunner in a vacant house that was being sold. We were doing some yard cleanup and this bird ran into the open backdoor sliding glass and was running around frantically. I cornered it in the bathroom, and put on some leather gloves not knowing what to expect. Finally I grabbed it like a chicken around the torso holding the wings down, and brought it outside. After examining it a bit since I had never seen one close up, I put it down, it looked around for a second or two, ran across the yard, jumped up on a wall, and ran out of sight.
“Jumped up on a wall” - usually, they run through that hole in the wall that the Coyote painted. Then the Coyote tries to follow and just slams into the wall. “That Coyote is really a crazy clown.”
I think those astronomers have been watching too much children’s television. Time was when heavenly phenomena were named after Greek mythological figures.
To me it looks more like a roadrunner, but it’s still cool.