The scientific community has been viewing new and stunning images of our sun and solar flaring revealed by X-Ray telescopes. With the help of NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (colloquially known as NuSTAR), astronomers were able to compile a colourful and awe-inspiring image of our solar system’s star.
The NuSTAR telescope was actually designed to gaze into the farthest reaches of the universe, however, astronomers decided to have it study our sun. With the help of NuSTAR’s observations, they were able to create one of the most beautiful space images to ever be unveiled. This portrait of the sun highlights the powerful X-ray generating process taking place in our solar system’s star corona.
The sun’s extremely hot atmosphere (where temperatures reach several million degrees) is known as a corona. It is the place where magnetically-dominated processes occur and the one element of the sun which has yet to reveal all of its mysteries. To explain this simply, the corona is much too hot for thermodynamics to allow. It is much hotter than the sun’s actual surface (as the plasma extending from its photosphere becomes hotter than the uppermost layers of the sun).
With the help of the powerful X-Ray telescope, astronomers were able to construct an image where the sun displays a myriad of colors, where powerful energy bursts are shown in blue while low-energy bursts appear colored in green.
The observations of the NuSTAR telescope were superimposed with those made by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (in ultraviolet light) as well as observations made by the Japanese Hinode observatory.
All three solar images were captured on the 29th of April, at approximately the same time, making the image mosaic that much more accurate. Dr. Ian Hannah revealed the psychedelic image on Thursday at the annual meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society.
A press release in connection to the image stated that scientists (including Dr. Ian Hannah) were now expecting that the sun would enter a less-active phase. Every 22 years, the sun enters a new cycle. Sunspots become less common over the course of the first 11 years, after which magnetic fields generated by these formations flip for the next 11 years. Scientists are awaiting a phase when the sunspot cycle reaches a minimum. They hope that during such a phase, hypothesized events such as axion particles and nanoflares would become visible.
Nanoflares represent hypothetical formation, theorized by astronomers to be a thousand times smaller than a microflare. But nanoflares are believed to be capable of emitting electrons at extremely high speeds, which would in turn produce X-Rays that the NuSTAR telescope could pick up.
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