X-rays stream off the sun in this image combining data from NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) space telescope, overlaid on a photo taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO).
The photo is the first taken of the sun by NuSTAR and is the “most sensitive solar portrait ever taken in high-energy X-rays,” according to NASA. The green and blue portions of the image show highly energetic X-ray emissions. The red represents ultraviolet light captured by the Solar Dynamics Observatory, another NASA space telescope.
In addition to looking pretty spectacular, the photo may point the way to some pretty important science.
Space scientists are hopeful that by gazing at the sun, NuSTAR may be able to help explain why the sun’s outer atmosphere (corona) is so blazingly hot (1 million degrees Celsius) while its surface is much cooler (6,000 degrees Celsius).
The key to this decades-old puzzle may be smaller versions of the colossal solar flares familiar to solar astronomers. At this point these so-called “nanoflares” are still hypothetical, but scientists believe that they, in combination with big solar flares, may be the sources of the corona’s intense heat.
“NuSTAR will be exquisitely sensitive to the faintest X-ray activity happening
If a 2015 calendar hasn’t made its way in to your holiday space stocking yet, here’s the perfect solution: this year’s edition of Steve Cariddi’s wonderful Year in Space Wall Calendar. It’s not too late to get your own copy, and Universe Today readers can purchase the calendar for only $13.95 or less (using the “Internet” discount), and get free U.S. shipping and discounted international shipping. There are also volume discounts.
But here’s your chance to win a copy! We’ve had two giveaways of this amazing calendar in the past month, but thanks to Steve, Universe Today now has an additional 5 copies to give away. To be entered into the drawing for our giveaway, just put your email address into the box below (where it says “Enter the Giveaway”) before Monday, December 29, 2014.
Read the rest of Still Need a 2015 Calendar? Win “The Year in Space” Wall Calendar (143 words)
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