Space Pictures This Week: Martian Gas, Cloud Trails

Image courtesy SDO/NASA

The sun is more than meets the eye, and researchers should know. They've equipped telescopes on Earth and in space with instruments that view the sun in at least ten different wavelengths of light, some of which are represented in this collage compiled by NASA and released January 22. (See more pictures of the sun.)

By viewing the different wavelengths of light given off by the sun, researchers can monitor its surface and atmosphere, picking up on activity that can create space weather.

If directed towards Earth, that weather can disrupt satellite communications and electronics—and result in spectacular auroras. (Read an article on solar storms in National Geographic magazine.)

The surface of the sun contains material at about 10,000°F (5,700°C), which gives off yellow-green light. Atoms at 11 million°F (6.3 million°C) gives off ultraviolet light, which scientists use to observe solar flares in the sun's corona. There are even instruments that image wavelengths of light highlighting the sun's magnetic field lines.

Jane J. Lee

Published January 28, 2013

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