Rare 'Solar Trilobite' Seen By NASA

Science fiction writers sometimes see living creatures in the sun.

In his 1959 story Out of the Sun, Arthur C. Clarke wrote about a solar observatory on Mercury that made an incredible, unexpected observation:

We were looking at what seemed to be a translucent oval, its interior laced with a network of almost invisible lines. Where the lines crossed there appeared to be tiny, pulsing nodes of light...

What we were seeing was impossible, yet the evidence was there before our eyes. We were looking at life, where no life could exist.

The eruption had hurled the thing out of its normal environment, deep down in the flaming atmosphere of the sun...

Writer Stephen Baxter wrote in his 1994 novel Ring about photino birds, creatures that lived within suns, and could even fly between them:

She descended into the Sun, through the ... flock of photino birds. The birds soared past and around her, tiny planets of dark matter racing through their tight solar orbits.

The birds continually nudged toward or away from each other, like a horde of satellites maneuvering for docking. Many of the transient clusters they formed ... seemed immensely complex. There had to be a reason for all this activity...
(From Ring, published 1994)

Last week, solar physicists met in Boulder, Colorado and watched a magnetogram - a movie that tracked the magnetic flux of sunspot 10926 as it broke through the surface of the sun. An object as large as a planet materialized; it looked like a giant trilobite swimming to the surface.


(Solar Trilobite - sunspot 10926)

Still photographs don't do the phenomenon justice; take a look at the video of a solar trilobite on Science@NASA.

It is remarkable how inorganic phenomena can give the appearance of life. Take a look at this article on solar tadpoles for another example.

Via Science@NASA; thanks to Fred for the tip.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/19/2007)

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