Incandescent Sun

That’s the title of this fascinating video from NASA.

This video takes SDO [Solar Dynamics Observatory] images and applies additional processing to enhance the structures visible. While there is no scientific value to this processing, it does result in a beautiful, new way of looking at the sun. The original frames are in the 171 Angstrom wavelength of extreme ultraviolet. This wavelength shows plasma in the solar atmosphere, called the corona, that is around 600,000 Kelvin. The loops represent plasma held in place by magnetic fields. They are concentrated in “active regions” where the magnetic fields are the strongest. These active regions usually appear in visible light as sunspots. The events in this video represent 24 hours of activity on September 25, 2011.

There’s more at the link, including links to individual frames from the video in various sizes (some large enough to serve as wallpaper – scroll down at the link to find them).  Here’s the video.

Amazing, isn’t it?  It’s hard to remember that the energy that’s visible in those images is enough to melt this entire planet down to its component atoms and absorb it into the giant ball of seething heat that is the Sun, if only we were close enough to it.  I’m glad we’re not!


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