Hinode Reveals Sun’s Surface Activity

NASA just released some great images and video clips taken by Hinode, a Japanese space telescope studying the sun. As described by New Scientist,

The restless bubbling and frothing of the Sun’s chaotic surface is astonishing astronomers who have been treated to detailed new images from a Japanese space telescope called Hinode.

The observatory will have as dramatic an impact on our understanding of the Sun as the Hubble Space Telescope has had on our view of the universe beyond, scientists told a NASA press conference in Washington, DC, US, on Wednesday.

(continue reading at New Scientist)

Sun's surface
Image credit: Hinode JAXA/NASA

They’ve released several images, including the one I’ve featured here (see the high-resolution version). The caption states

Taken by Hinode’s Solar Optical Telescope on Nov. 11, 2006, this image reveals the fine scale structure in the chromosphere that extends outward above the top of the convection cells, or granulation, of the photosphere. The structure results from the interaction of hot ionized gas with the magnetic field.

The video clip below really shows off the sun’s surface activity. You can see a higher-resolution version at NASA’s web site, along with other video clips from Hinode.

This incredible activity is taking place along the entire surface of the sun, all the time. It’s amazing: the sun appears unchanging and placid from Earth, yet its surface (and interior) are alive with activity.

Hinode (formerly known as SOLAR-B), is a satellite with three instruments: the Solar Optical Telescope, X-ray Telescope, and Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrometer. Its purpose is to study the sun. It is primarily run by JAXA, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, in collaboration with the space agencies of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union. Read more at NASA’s page.