Tuesday, July 24, 2012

NASA publishes clearest ever pictures of the sun

Without the sun, our current life on earth would not have been possible. It is the star that our planet revolves around, and is therefore of special interest to us. Many astronomers study it, and NASA recently published a bunch of great pictures of the sun. Now, they have done so again, but in unprecedented high detail. You can find the pictures and a video after the break.

One of the pictures taken by NASA.
According to NASA, a technique called sounding was used to get the pictures. That basically means they shot a rocket in the direction of the sun, carrying a highly specialized piece of imaging equipment. NASA's High Resolution Coronal Imager (Hi-C) weighs well over 200kg, with a length of over 3 meters.

During its flight, that lasted around 10 minutes, the Hi-C took 165 images of the sun of 16 megapixels each. They were stitched into the video found below. Pictures were shown either in red or in green, but they do not represent the sun's true colours: they are filters put on the pictures to help viewers distinguish structures on the sun's corona.

The video shows a rather active spot on the sun's outer layer, or corona. While there seems not be moving much in the video, there is clarity of approximately 1086km; the highest resolution ever made of the sun. Activity in the corona may lead to something we know as solar flares, or even sun storms. In May, a rather large sun storm was believed to be dangerous because its associated radiation could cut our power supply. Luckily, that did not happen.

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