Imagine a pipe as wide as a state and as long as half the Earth.
Now imagine that this pipe is filled with
hot gas moving 50,000 kilometers per hour.
Further imagine that this pipe is not made of metal but a transparent
You are envisioning just one of thousands of young
spicules on the
Pictured above is perhaps the highest
resolution image yet of these enigmatic solar flux tubes.
Spicules dot the
above frame of
solar active region 10380 that crossed the Sun in June,
but are particularly evident as a
carpet of dark tubes on the right.
Time-sequenced images have recently shown that
spicules last about five minutes,
starting out as tall tubes of rapidly rising gas but eventually
fading as the gas peaks and falls back down to the Sun.
These images also indicate, for the first time, that the ultimate cause of
spicules is sound-like waves that flow over the
surface but leak into the