Sun plasma

 

Corona plasma ejection shaped by the sun's magnetic field (Image: NASA/LMSAL/SAO) Click on image for high resolution picture.

The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics yesterday issued a press release (with images) of the results of an instrument, the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (“AIA”), on board NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (“SDO”), designed by Smithsonian scientists to provide views of the sun’s inner-most corona.

The previous method for viewing the solar corona (by means of a device called a “coronagraph”) permitted a view by blocking the sun (much like how a solar eclipse permits a view of the corona), but it also blocked the area immediately around the sun. The AIA, by contrast, takes images down to the sun’s surface, then a computer program, developed by astronomers Steven Cranmer and Alec Engell, processes the information by essentially blocking the solar glare.

“The AIA solar images, with better-than-HD quality views, show magnetic structures and dynamics that we’ve never seen before on the Sun,” says Cranmer in the Center for Astrophysics press release. “This is a whole new area of study that’s just beginning.”

 

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