MUMBAI: At about 8 am (IST) on Friday, Nasa’s latest sunobserving satellite called Iris (Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph) was launched from the Vandenburg Air Force base in California in a two-year mission to further unravel the mysteries of the sun. According to Nasa, Iris is a small explorer mission which will investigate the sun’s lower atmosphere in unprecedented detail.
Explaining the significance of the mission, Dibyendu Nandi, astrophysicist and coordinator of the Center for Excellence in Space Sciences at IISER ( Indian Institute of Science Education and Research ) Kolkata said on Friday : “The space community lacked the sophisticated observational equipment necessary to study the crucial layer sandwiched between the solar surface and the corona known as the interface region.” Nandi explained that this is the layer through which the energy necessary to heat the solar outer atmosphere is transmitted and this is also the region where much of the restructuring of magnetic fields associated with solar storms occur.
He said Iris will return images of this region in great detail never seen before and will capture the flow of plasma and energy through this layer at a very fast rate. Data from IRIS will throw new light on the long-standing coronal heating puzzle and can help us understand the physical mechanisms underlying the largest storms in the solar system, he said.
Milky Way bigger than thought?
Spiral galaxies like the Milky Way appear to be much larger and more massive than believed earlier, according to a new University of Colorado Boulder study by researchers using the Hubble Space Telescope. Professor John Stocke, study leader, said new observations with Hubble’s $70 million Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, or COS, show that normal spiral galaxies are surrounded by halos of gas that can extend to over one million light-years in diameter.
Source : http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/science/Nasas-sat-takes-off-to-study-sun/articleshow/20825746.cms