Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2003 June 24
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The Sun's Surface in 3D
Credit: G. Scharmer (ISP, RSAS) et al., Lockheed-Martin Solar & Astrophysics Lab.

Explanation: How smooth is the Sun? The new Swedish 1-m Solar Telescope, deployed in the Canary Islands only last year, allows imaging of objects less than 100-km across on the Sun's surface. When pointed toward the Sun's edge, surface objects now begin to block each other, indicating true three-dimensional information. Close inspection of the image reveals much vertical information, including spectacular light-bridges rising nearly 500-km above the floor of sunspots near the top of the image. Also visible in the above false-color image are hundreds of bubbling granules, each about 1000-km across, and small bright regions known as faculas.

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