Space

Stunning high-res photos of the Sun reveal swirling threads of plasma

Stunning high-res photos of th...
These unprecedented images come courtesy of NASA’s High-Resolution Coronal Imager, a sub-orbital telescope launched into space in 2012 to study the Sun’s atmosphere
These unprecedented images come courtesy of NASA’s High-Resolution Coronal Imager, a sub-orbital telescope launched into space in 2012 to study the Sun’s atmosphere
View 10 Images
NASA’s High-Resolution Coronal Imager has delivered the highest-resolution images of the Sun's atmosphere yet
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NASA’s High-Resolution Coronal Imager has delivered the highest-resolution images of the Sun's atmosphere yet
In what are described as the highest-resolution images ever taken of the Sun’s atmosphere, scientists have detected previously unsighted threads of magnetic plasma woven throughout
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In what are described as the highest-resolution images ever taken of the Sun’s atmosphere, scientists have detected previously unsighted threads of magnetic plasma woven throughout
Close up of the newly identified threads of plasma in the Sun's atmosphere
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Close up of the newly identified threads of plasma in the Sun's atmosphere
Close up of the newly identified threads of plasma in the Sun's atmosphere, with the Earth included to offer a sense of scale
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Close up of the newly identified threads of plasma in the Sun's atmosphere, with the Earth included to offer a sense of scale
Close-up of the newly identified threads of plasma in the Sun's atmosphere, with the Earth included to offer a sense of scale
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Close-up of the newly identified threads of plasma in the Sun's atmosphere, with the Earth included to offer a sense of scale
These unprecedented images come courtesy of NASA’s High-Resolution Coronal Imager, a sub-orbital telescope launched into space in 2012 to study the Sun’s atmosphere
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These unprecedented images come courtesy of NASA’s High-Resolution Coronal Imager, a sub-orbital telescope launched into space in 2012 to study the Sun’s atmosphere
Swirls of magnetic plasma in the Sun's atmosphere, as seen by NASA’s High-Resolution Coronal Imager
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Swirls of magnetic plasma in the Sun's atmosphere, as seen by NASA’s High-Resolution Coronal Imager
Swirls of magnetic plasma in the Sun's atmosphere, seen close up
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Swirls of magnetic plasma in the Sun's atmosphere, seen close up
These electrified threads of extremely hot gas in the Sun's atmosphere measure around 500 km (310 mi) in width
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These electrified threads of extremely hot gas in the Sun's atmosphere measure around 500 km (310 mi) in width
Modern science gives us more and more ways to observe the bubbling, explosive mass of energy at the center of the solar system
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Modern science gives us more and more ways to observe the bubbling, explosive mass of energy at the center of the solar system
View gallery - 10 images

It mightn’t be safe for us humans to stare directly at the Sun, but thankfully modern science gives us more and more ways to observe this bubbling, explosive mass of energy at the center of the solar system. In what are described as the highest-resolution images ever taken of the Sun’s atmosphere, scientists have detected previously unsighted threads of magnetic plasma woven throughout, offering new clues as to the makeup of its active outer layers.

These images come courtesy of NASA’s High-Resolution Coronal Imager (Hi-C, a sub-orbital telescope launched into space in 2012 to study the Sun’s atmosphere, also known as its corona. It is capable of imaging structures in the corona as small as 70 km (43 m) across, or around 0.01 percent of the total size of the Sun, with the latest fruits of its labor revealing stunning new features that offer scientists plenty of food for thought.

Following analysis by researchers at the University of Central Lancashire and collaborators at NASA, these images have revealed incredibly fine, million-degree strands of plasma. These electrified threads of extremely hot gas measure around 500 km (310 mi) in width, though the exact mechanism responsible for their creation is unclear, so will be the subject of debate.

In what are described as the highest-resolution images ever taken of the Sun’s atmosphere, scientists have detected previously unsighted threads of magnetic plasma woven throughout
In what are described as the highest-resolution images ever taken of the Sun’s atmosphere, scientists have detected previously unsighted threads of magnetic plasma woven throughout

Discussion will also center on how these fine threads may help shape solar flares and storms, along with the solar winds that emanate outward from the Sun and can be felt right across the solar system.

“This is a fascinating discovery that could better inform our understanding of the flow of energy through the layers of the Sun and eventually down to Earth itself,” says Dr Tom Williams, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Central Lancashire. This is so important if we are to model and predict the behavior of our life-giving star.”

Swirls of magnetic plasma in the Sun's atmosphere, seen close up
Swirls of magnetic plasma in the Sun's atmosphere, seen close up

The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope in Hawaii is another scientific instrument that can offer incredibly high-res images of the Sun, earlier this year bringing us the most detailed photos and videos of its surface to date. NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, meanwhile, continues its series of orbits that will take it through the Sun’s corona, where it will gather images and data on this particularly inhospitable environment.

The research on the Sun’s magnetic strands was published in The Astrophysical Journal, while you can check out the full array of images in the gallery.

Source: University of Central Lancashire

View gallery - 10 images
7 comments
Signguy
What wonders God has created...
Graeme S
Finally getting closer to what actually happens, If we can cast of what we think we know and re think from what we now see maybe we will see not only a plasma thread in the sun but see the process of the plasma throughout the universe, driving everything, welcome to the Electric universe, good by to the big bang, and see the immensity of everything, again pointing to our incredible creator, forget religion and be in Awe of God.
jetserf
@Signguy Yes
Ian Buchanan
first crop circles on earth now sun squares up there, the power that be get about.
Douglas E Knapp
Signguy, I assume that was a typo, not god but gravity.
Altronix
In the last photograph what is the cause/source of the straight lines - the square pattern? Is this an artifact of how the photo was put together from multiple images? Curves are expected but I don't expect to see square structures.
Karmudjun
Yeah, right Signguy and Graeme S.
My physics professor was a solar investigator who traveled the world to each total eclipse (and as many of the partial eclipses as he could get funded) and he was a very religious Christian. He was investigating God's creation, not God. He wanted to know the unknown reality, not the unknowable reality.

He would have appreciated Nick's article for the basics provided and probably - if he were still alive - be able to expound on all the findings and the ramifications in science. I learned from him that people who view scientific breakthroughs or scientific clarity as justifications for their world view - or their religious view - or their spiritual world - are plain clueless about science.

Darwin after all was the devout son of a Bishop, he was no atheist nor did he reject God and religion - instead his faith was strengthened by science even when his faith was challenged by his children's deaths. So yes, the "hand" of God is present in all of creation and we are only learning of the physics of it. Not the spirituality, religion, or role in human life (socially). Get real!