Credit: NASA/Goddard/SDO AIA Team
Sun in Living Color
Although the sun is the nearest star, there's much we still don't know about it. We think of the sun as a stable source of radiation, but it's also incredibly dynamic, showering bursts of high energy particles and radiation towards earth and the other planets. What drives these extreme outbursts? Scientists now have a new tool to probe the origin of the sun's activity: the Solar Dynamics Observatory. The Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, provides extremely high resolution images and spectra which allow solar physicists to study the sun on scales never before achievable. SDO made a splash when it was launched in February, and now that its instruments have been fully checked out, it's returning unbelievable images like the one above. This image shows the Sun in extreme ultraviolet radiation as observed by SDO's Atmospheric Imaging Assembly. In this false-color image, pink is emission from relatively low-temperature gas (at about 110,000 F); blues and greens show emission from hotter gas (greater than 1.8 million F). Coronal streamers, spicules in the chromosphere, and an impressive prominence can all be viewed in exquisite detail. Images and other data returned by SDO will allow us to understand the delicate interaction between the sun's storms and the earth.
Published: April 26, 2010
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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Thursday, 31-Mar-2011 17:14:49 EDT