Astronomy Picture of the Day
APOD: 2000 January 10 - Brown Sun Bubbling
Explanation: Our Sun may look like all soft and fluffy, but its not. Our Sun is an extremely large ball of bubbling hot gas, mostly hydrogen gas. The above picture was taken in a specific color of light emitted by hydrogen gas called Hydrogen-alpha. Granules cover the solar photosphere surface like shag carpet, interrupted by bright regions containing dark sunspots. Visible at the left edge is a solar prominence. Our Sun glows because it is hot, but it is not on fire. Fire is the rapid acquisition of oxygen, and there is very little oxygen on the Sun. The energy source of our Sun is the nuclear fusion of hydrogen into helium deep within its core. Astronomers are still working to understand, however, why so few neutrinos are measured from the Sun's core.
APOD: 2005 November 6 - A Sunspot Up Close
Explanation: Why would a small part of the Sun appear slightly dark? Visible above is a close-up picture of a sunspot, a depression on the Sun's face that is slightly cooler and less luminous than the rest of the Sun. The Sun's complex magnetic field creates this cool region by inhibiting hot material from entering the spot. Sunspots can be larger than the Earth and typically last for only a few days. This high-resolution picture also shows clearly that the Sun's face is a bubbling sea of separate cells of hot gas. These cells are known as granules. A solar granule is about 1000 kilometers across and lasts about 10 minutes. After that, many granules end up exploding.
APOD: 2004 April 7 - The Crown of the Sun
Explanation: During a total solar eclipse, the Sun's extensive outer atmosphere or corona is an awesome and inspirational sight. The subtle shades and shimmering features of the corona that engage the eye span a brightness range of over 10,000 to 1, making them notoriously difficult to capture in a single picture. But this composite of 33 digital images ranging in exposure time from 1/8000 to 1/5 second comes very close to revealing the crown of the Sun in all its glory. The telescopic views were recorded from Side, Turkey during the March 29 solar eclipse, a geocentric celestial event that was widely seen under nearly ideal conditions. The composite also captures a pinkish prominence extending just beyond the upper edge of the eclipsed sun.
Authors & editors:
NASA Web Site Statements, Warnings, and Disclaimers
NASA Official: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: EUD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.