Interesting Photo of the Day: Portrait of the Sun

Welcome to the future. For the first time in history, scientists at NASA have captured an image of a very important star. And not just any star, the star that makes life on earth possible: the sun. What a glorious thing—in beauty and in what it means for the future of astronomical science:

sun space nasa

The sun as viewed with NASA’s NuSTAR. (Via NASA. Click to view full size.)

The sun’s brightness—too strong for most telescopes—is no match for NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR. It can safely view the sun without damaging its detectors, resulting in the very first and most sensitive solar portrait ever taken in high-energy X-rays. The image from NuSTAR showing prismatic-like x-rays flowing off the sun are overlaid on a picture taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.

“NuSTAR will give us a unique look at the sun, from the deepest to the highest parts of its atmosphere,” said David Smith, a solar physicist and member of the NuSTAR team in an excerpt from NASA.gov.

The image provides significant data that will help scientists answer questions about the sun’s high temperatures, nanoflares, and the dark patches on the surface called “sun spots.” More information will be available as the sun winds down in its solar cycle, with lessening activity over the next few years. And because NuSTAR is so sensitive, it may be able to help search for the hypothesized dark matter particles called axions, the unseen particles of the universe.

The telescopes will continue to examine other objects beyond our solar system, such as black holes and super nova remnants, as per its original intent.

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One Comment

  1. Avola says:

    Impressing. How fortunate they are to work with the Sun like this, to see it like this every day.

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