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NASA/SDO

Plasma eruptions from the Sun's surface — from small bursts to gigantic eruptions that can cause spectacular auroras on Earth — are all part of the same process and have the same underlying mechanism, a new study in Nature shows.

Why this matters: Electromagnetic radiation from the sun can cause interference with radio and satellite transmissions. The high-energy, charged particles from the sun's eruptions also can endanger astronauts in space (one of the challenges to traveling to places like Mars). Understanding the true nature of the plasma eruptions across the entire spectrum will potentially allow scientists to mitigate risks.

A closer look at the Sun: There are two very different types of hot gas eruptions from the Sun's blazingly hot surface: relatively small bursts of plasma (coronal jets) and huge clouds of plasma (coronal mass ejections) that explode off into space at very high speeds. Because the eruptions are on such vastly different scales, scientists thought they were driven by different processes.

Using 3d computer simulations, scientists from NASA's Goddard Space Center and Durham University in the UK were able to show that the Sun's eruptions are theoretically part of the same process. When large regions of dense, cool gas called filaments become unstable or stressed, they break through the magnetic field that suspends them above the Sun's surface and trigger small and large ejections.

Go deeper

8 mins ago - World

Scoop: Biden administration objects to Israeli settlements plan

Israeli PM Naftali Bennett (L) meets with Secretary of State Tony Blinken. Photo: Olivier Douliery/Pool/AFP via Getty

The Biden administration has privately protested to the Israeli government over its plan to approve the planning and construction of more than 3,000 new housing units in the Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, sources briefed on the issue tell me.

Why it matters: The approvals for new homes in the settlements will be the first since President Biden assumed office, and come after Biden and his top aides personally pressed Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to restrain settlement activity and decrease the number of new housing units.

2 hours ago - World

Pentagon warns of ISIS-K capabilities outside Afghanistan

The site of an airstrike conducted by the U.S. against a planner for ISIS-K in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan in August. Photo: Xinhua via Getty Images

U.S. intelligence believes ISIS-K has the "intent" to eventually launch attacks outside of Afghanistan and could be capable of doing so "somewhere between six or 12 months," a top Pentagon official told senators Tuesday.

Why it matters: The U.S. withdrawal and subsequent Taliban takeover of Afghanistan has raised fears that terrorist groups will reconstitute and potentially pose a renewed threat to the U.S. homeland.

Exclusive: Billionaires back new media firm to combat disinformation

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A new public benefit corporation backed by billionaires Reid Hoffman, George Soros, and others is launching Tuesday to fund new media companies and efforts that tackle disinformation.

Why it matters: Good Information Inc. aims to fund and scale businesses that cut through echo chambers with fact-based information. As part of its mission, it plans to invest in local news companies.