Yesterday’s Astronomy Picture of the Day was this fantastic image by the talented Alan Friedman, showing the sphere of our Sun taken in a special wavelength of light emitted by hydrogen gas and then inverted to look blue. Incredible details of the Sun’s surface – the chromosphere – become visible, most notably the texture caused by raised tubes of magnetically-contained plasma covering the surface called spicules.
From this distance the spicules create a carpet-like texture. But each one is a winding, magnetically-contained tube of hot gas traveling at 30,000 mph, hundreds of miles wide and half as long as the Earth. They constantly rise and fall across the surface of the sun, lasting about five minutes each. (Watch a video of them in action.)
In addition some bright solar prominences are visible along the edges of the Sun.
Alan Friedman’s photography features wonderful views of celestial objects both familiar and exotic, expertly composed with an eye for the inherent art only nature can create. Visit his website for more images: www.avertedimagination.com. (This will also have a permanent home in my sidebar.)
Image: Alan Friedman. Used with permission.
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