Solar Wind

Fluid dynamics appear at all kinds of scales. The animation above shows two comets, Encke and ISON, on their recent approach toward the sun. The darker wisps emanating from the right side of the image are part of the solar wind, a plasma stream continuously emitted by the sun’s upper atmosphere. Although the solar wind is very rarefied by terrestrial standards, its density is sufficient to whip the comets’ tails of gas and dust from side-to-side. Scientists use images like these to learn more about the structure of the solar wind based on its interaction with the comets. For more great images of ISON’s journey around the sun, check out NASA Goddard.  (Image credit: K. Battams/NASA/STEREO/CIOC; submitted by John C)

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