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Mighty streams of plasma flow under solar surface - Windows to the Universe

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Mighty Streams of Plasma Flow under Solar Surface
News story originally written on September 3, 1997

With the help of the SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) spacecraft, scientists have made an exciting discovery about the Sun.

The discovery is that there are streams of plasma flowing beneath the surface of the Sun. Plasma is hot, electrically-charged gas. These plasma streams are the smallest things found inside the Sun, but each stream is still large enough to hold two Earths!

It is thought that these streams affect solar "weather" or activity. This new finding will help scientists to understand solar activity which directly affects the Earth. High solar activity can cause occasional power and communications disruptions on Earth.

For the last year, the SOHO spacecraft has been a solar observatory. It is 930,000 miles away from the Earth and has 12 scientific instruments. Scientists are excited about this recent discovery and look forward to future observations as the Sun enters its next active cycle around the year 2001.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF