One shouldn’t stare at the Sun with the naked eye but its perfectly good to stare at this composite picture from several specialized telescopes (NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array; their Solar Dynamics Observatory and Japan’s Hinode spacecraft). The active regions across the sun’s surface contain material heated to several millions of degrees with the blue-white areas showing the most energetic spots with mini-flares being ejected.
X-ray astronomy is used to detect and study astronomical objects and the Sun provides us with plenty of such data as we try and learn more about it. NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) and Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) provided data which was combined to form this picture of high energy x-rays streaming off the Sun. The high energy emissions, shown in blue (3 to 5 kilo-electron volts) and green (2 to 3 kilo-electron volts) are from NuSTAR’s data and come from gases that may be heated to over 3 million degrees. The SDO data in this composite image is the areas in red which consists of ultraviolet light at 171 angstrom wavelength.
NASA’s screen-cast of the recent drop in solar (sunspot and flare) activity and the now expected cyclical shift back up, as solar activity starts to pick up again. As per the NASA-NOAA prediction panel which is comprised of leading solar physicists, this could lead to an upcoming mini solar maximum cycle in 2014.
This February 25, 2014 solar event was a major X-class (X4) solar flare and coronal mass ejection (CME). The image captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) shows the massive and powerful x-class ejection from the Sun, which looks a lot like a shrimp. Thankfully there was no major damage to electrical systems on Earth or on the many satellites in orbit.
Recent missions by NASA have provided us with brand new and unique views of the Sun. These three dimensional views of structures in the Sun’s atmosphere have resulted in an increased understanding of solar physics and better space weather forecasting. The above picture is the “virtual left eye” image of the Sun’s north pole; taken by SECCHI Extreme UltraViolet Imager (EUVI) mounted on the STEREO-B spacecraft. STEREO-B is located behind the Earth and follows it in orbit around the Sun while STEREO-A is ahead of the Earth, leading it around the Sun. The EUVI imager is sensitive to wavelengths of light in the extreme ultraviolet portion of the spectrum (including bands at wavelengths of 304, 171 and 195 Angstroms).