This video shows the Sun opening its mouth like Pac-Man. Instead of eating ghosts, it shows you what its surface looks like at different wavelengths of light, and it looks gorgeous. NASA is calling it the “Jewel Box Sun” and throwing around the word “rainbow” a lot, but we’ll stick with our Pac-Man analogy, thank you very much.
The data used for the video comes from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. Their site has a detailed explanation of each of the different wavelengths used if you want to get down to the real nitty-gritty science stuff going on here, but NASA gives a pretty succinct explanation of the need for different wavelengths and why they appear so different:
Yellow light of 5800 Angstroms, for example, generally emanates from material of about 10,000 degrees F (5700 degrees C), which represents the surface of the sun. Extreme ultraviolet light of 94 Angstroms, which is typically colorized in green in SDO images, comes from atoms that are about 11 million degrees F (6,300,000 degrees C) and is a good wavelength for looking at solar flares, which can reach such high temperatures. By examining pictures of the sun in a variety of wavelengths – as is done not only by SDO, but also by NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory and the European Space Agency/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory — scientists can track how particles and heat move through the sun’s atmosphere.
Honestly? We’re just happy to look at the Sun be beautiful for a few minutes.
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- What was that squiggly line NASA’s Juno tweeted?