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solar fireflies



Clare here! I'm going to tell you about solar fireflies. At least that's what I call them, but they are really known as solar X-ray bright points. On Earth, a firefly is a small insect about the size of your thumbnail. When they fly around at night they have little lights in them that wink on and off. My solar fireflies are a bit different!


Take a look at this picture of the solar corona. It's a picture of X-rays coming from the Sun. You can see some large bright regions, where the X-rays are strong, but you can also see many small bright dots. These are my solar fireflies.


As well as in X-rays, we can also see these fireflies in ultraviolet radiation coming from the Sun.

Close up, X-ray bright points seem to have wings, mouse over arrow as you can see on this close up X-ray image.


Sometimes X-ray bright points appear like twisted tubes of glowing plasma. Here is a photograph of one taken in ultraviolet light mouse over arrow. It was taken by the solar satellite called TRACE.


Firefly: Miss, can I go to the toilet? - Teacher: Sure, when you gotta glow, you gotta glow!
Top tip for seeing a firefly! - Spend a summer night camping

Sometimes fireflies get so twisted they explode and disappear. Believe me, you wouldn't want to be standing too close when one of these goes off!




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