April 23, 2010
We’ve got a lot of eyes on our Sun. No, not yours and mine (you shouldn’t be looking directly at the Sun anyway). I mean the artificial eyes on cameras in spacecraft. The newest of those spacecraft is NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which began transmitting images to Earth earlier this week. The image above (Credit: NASA/Goddard/SDO AIA Team), which shows different temperatures in false colors (reds are relatively cool—about 60,000 Kelvin, or 107,540 Fahrenheit; blues and greens are hotter—greater than 1 million K, or 1,799,540 F), was taken on March 30 by the SDO. A compilation of the new imagery, including video of a solar prominence, can be found below.
Scientists are using spacecraft like SDO to investigate how the Sun works. Though they understand how a star produces heat and light, solar dynamics are complex and still rather mysterious. That may worry some—the Sun’s activity, after all, can have a huge effect on life on Earth—but I find it pretty amazing that one of the biggest mysteries in our universe is the object around which we revolve.
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