NASA pieced together high energy X-ray images from three of its telescopes around the world to create a stunning mosaic of the sun.
The image shows the star’s flaring, active surface regions which contain material heated to several millions of degrees. And it’s absolutely stunning.
Here it is:
The X-rays were captured using NASA’s space-based Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR), low-energy X-rays from Japan’s Hinode spacecraft, and extreme ultraviolet light from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO).
All three telescopes took the solar images around the same time on April 29, 2015.
The most energetic spots, show in blue and taken by NuSTAR, reveal microflares — small surface eruptions — that exploded during the observations.
The flares occur when magnetic field lines become tangled and broken, and then reconnect.
NASA says it plans to continue studying the sun using NuSTAR, which typically observes black holes and supernovas, to learn more about these microflares and hypothesised nanoflares — even smaller flares which could explain why the sun’s atmosphere is much hotter than expected.
“Our sun is quieting down in its activity cycle, but still has a couple of years before it reaches a minimum,” Iain Hannah of the University of Glasgow, Scotland said. “We still need the sun to quiet down more over the next few years to have the ability to detect these events.”