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American Astronomical Society Meeting

Highlights from the 220th AAS meeting held June 10-14 in Anchorage, Alaska

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2:26pm, June 18, 2012

20 hours of fame

Seen in gamma rays, the sun is usually dark. But on March 7, it blazed for 20 hours after a massive solar flare dumped high-energy particles and light into space. “The sky looked completely different,” Stanford University’s Nicola Omodei said on June 11. NASA’s Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope captured the sun’s brief moment in the … sun, and recorded "the highest-energy light ever detected during a solar flare,” Omodei said. Scientists studying the gamma-ray–producing particles determined that instead of only being flung outward by the initial flare-producing shock, the particles were probably also accelerated by reconnecting solar magnetic fields after the event.

Sun’s short-term memory

Scientists trying to forecast peaks in solar cycle activity have generated vastly variable estimates, ranging from Wimpy to Hulk. Dibyendu Nandy, from the Indian Instit

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