NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, and the Swedish 1-meter Solar Telescope in La Palma peered into the lower layers of the sun’s atmosphere, known as the interface region, where spicules form.

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The results of this NASA-funded study allowed researchers to create a computer simulation — so detailed it took a full year to run — that shows how spicules form, helping scientists understand how spicules can break free of the sun’s surface and surge upward so quickly.

The study ‘On the generation of solar spicules and Alfvénic waves‘ was published in Science on June 22, 2017.