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In case you’ve forgotten, Earth’s sun is totally epic: It’s home to towering fountains of plasma, “lava lamp blobs” of mystery matter 500 times larger than Earth, and a writhing magnetic field that twists, turns, snaps and lashes out into space every 11 years or so, seriously screwing with Earth’s power grid.
While trying to better understand that 11-year stellar-tantrum cycle, characterized by a sudden increase in sunspot activity near the sun’s equator, scientists discovered a new form of solar epicness you should probably be aware of. When one solar cycle ends and the next begins, the researchers wrote, the sun may experience cataclysmic magnetic field collisions — known as “terminator events” — resulting in gargantuan tsunamis of plasma that can charge across the sun’s surface for weeks at a time.
According to the authors of two new studies (published February 4 in the journal Scientific Reports and…
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