The Spooky Sun

Oct 31, 2006
The Spooky Sun
The sun's corona glows eerily orange in this image taken on October 28, 2006 by the X-ray Telescope on board the Hinode (formerly Solar-B) spacecraft. The bright region in the inset box shows magnetic fields that have just emerged from the solar interior, producing a new active region. During the current, quiet phase of solar activity (sunspot minimum), the corona is dominated by small regions of closed magnetic field (called X-ray Bright Points) and large dark areas where the magnetic field of the sun extends into interplanetary space (called Coronal Holes).

Just in time for Halloween, astronomers have taken a haunting new portrait of the sun. In this color-coded image from the Hinode spacecraft (formerly Solar-B), the sun glows eerily orange as though celebrating with earthly spooks.

The photograph shows the sun's corona - the top layer of the sun's atmosphere, a region of extremely rarefied gases heated to millions of degrees. During the current, quiet phase of solar activity (sunspot minimum), the corona is dominated by small regions of closed magnetic field (called X-ray Bright Points) and large dark areas where the magnetic field of the sun extends into interplanetary space (called Coronal Holes). There is also a low level of activity as a few small active regions emerge from inside the sun.

The bright region in the inset box shows magnetic fields that have just emerged from the solar interior, producing a new active region.

When the image is seen at full resolution, compact loops of 3-million-degree gas are clearly seen. Movies made from sequences of images will show how the corona evolves, and what conditions lead to the entire range of solar activity from flares and large-scale eruptions to small-scale magnetic reconnection events and explosive jets.

The Hinode spacecraft carries three telescopes. This image was taken with the X-ray Telescope developed jointly by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Hinode's X-ray Telescope is the highest resolution solar X-ray telescope ever flown. It will show the structure and dynamics of the corona over a wide range of temperatures and a broad field of view.

Source: Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Explore further: Image: Chandra's view of the Tycho Supernova remnant

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A stunning image of our home star

Jul 15, 2014

Active regions 2108 and 2109 are now passing around the limb of the Sun, but not before solar photography specialist Alan Friedman grabbed a few pictures of them on Friday!   The image above, captured by ...

Researchers study the sun's coronal rain in great detail

Jun 24, 2014

(Phys.org) —Just like on Earth, the Sun has spells of bad weather, with high winds and showers of rain. But unlike the all-too-frequent storms of the UK and Ireland, rain on the Sun is made of electrically ...

Puffing Sun gives birth to reluctant eruption

Jun 23, 2014

(Phys.org) —A suite of Sun-gazing spacecraft, SOHO, STEREO and Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), have spotted an unusual series of eruptions in which a series of fast 'puffs' force the slow ejection of ...

Solar moss shakes at 16,000 km an hour

Jun 23, 2014

(Phys.org) —Using a state-of-the-art ultraviolet camera, two astronomers from Northumbria University have obtained exceptionally sharp images of 'solar Moss', bright features on the Sun that may hold the ...

Recommended for you

Image: Chandra's view of the Tycho Supernova remnant

Jul 25, 2014

More than four centuries after Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe first observed the supernova that bears his name, the supernova remnant it created is now a bright source of X-rays. The supersonic expansion of ...

Satellite galaxies put astronomers in a spin

Jul 24, 2014

An international team of researchers, led by astronomers at the Observatoire Astronomique de Strasbourg (CNRS/Université de Strasbourg), has studied 380 galaxies and shown that their small satellite galaxies almost always ...

Video: The diversity of habitable zones and the planets

Jul 24, 2014

The field of exoplanets has rapidly expanded from the exclusivity of exoplanet detection to include exoplanet characterization. A key step towards this characterization is the determination of which planets occupy the Habitable ...

User comments : 0