Seeing the Sun in a New Light
April 21, 2010 will be remembered as the day we saw the sun in a new light.
NASA showcased the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) 'first light' imagery of the sun, photographs that are 10 times the clarity of a household high definition television.
After decades of solar physics research, the advanced instrumentation aboard the SDO will answer many mysteries about our nearest star and will no doubt uncover new questions. Already, solar physicists are examining whether long-standing solar theories are holding true, and the SDO's sheer power will help scientists protect the Earth against potentially paralyzing space weather.
In this multicolored image, multiple wavelengths of extreme ultraviolet light (EUV) from the SDO's AIA (Atmospheric Imaging Assembly) instrument have been overlaid, highlighting solar plasma at temperatures of 60,000 Kelvin (glowing in red) to over 1 million Kelvin (blue and green). The high definition of this instrument means very tiny magnetic structures can be resolved. The AIA is continually filming the sun, tracking energetic events like coronal mass ejections (CMEs) and flares.