BA video: Why is the Sun's corona hot?

Bad Astronomy Video: How Do You Heat the Sun to Two Million Degrees? 

Bad Astronomy Video: How Do You Heat the Sun to Two Million Degrees? 

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
May 4 2015 11:30 AM

Bad Astronomy Video: Megatons Away From Ordinary

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The Sun is hot.

Yeah, I know, duh. It’s literally white-hot; glowing at a temperature of more than 5,500° Celsius. But it’s hotter than that: Its whisper-thin atmosphere, the corona, is actually far, far hotter, seething and writhing at more than 2 million degrees!

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How does it stay that hot? After a long search spanning decades, astronomers think they’ve found the Sun’s heat engine: nanoflares. Find out how they work in this week’s Bad Astronomy Video.

Even though I’ve been an astronomer nearly all my life, and deal with huge numbers all the time, every now and again I have to back out of my own head a little and chuckle.

Only astronomers would refer to millions of explosions every second, each equal to detonating tens of millions of tons of TNT, using the prefix “nano.”

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

Jim Festante is an actor/writer in Los Angeles and regular video contributor to Slate. He is the author of the Image Comics miniseries The End Times of Bram and Ben.