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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

NRA files for bankruptcy, says it will reincorporate in Texas

Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association (NRA) speaks during CPAC in 2016. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The National Rifle Association said Friday it has filed for voluntary bankruptcy as part of a restructuring plan.

Driving the news: The gun rights group said it would reincorporate in Texas, calling New York, where it is currently registered, a "toxic political environment." Last year, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit to dissolve the NRA, alleging the group committed fraud by diverting roughly $64 million in charitable donations over three years to support reckless spending by its executives.

30 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden: "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution

Joe Biden. Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden promised to invoke the Defense Production Act to increase vaccine manufacturing, as he outlined a five-point plan to administer 100 million COVID-19 vaccinations in the first months of his presidency.

Why it matters: With the Center for Disease Control and Prevention warning of a more contagious variant of the coronavirus, Biden is trying to establish how he’ll approach the pandemic differently than President Trump.

A new Washington

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Image

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Friday that the city should expect a "new normal" for security — even after President-elect Biden's inauguration.

The state of play: Inaugurations are usually a point of celebration in D.C., but over 20,000 troops are now patrolling Washington streets in an unprecedented preparation for Biden's swearing-in on Jan. 20.