The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (or NuSTAR) was never typically meant to study the hottest known star in our galaxy, but x-rays of the sun display a stunning color show and it’s well worth the adjustment. In order to capture the strikingly colorful images, three telescopes were used to superimpose one caption on top of the other.
NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) and Japan’s Hinode observatory along with NuSTAR have gathered their x-rays of the sun to create this one picture that is not only beautiful in colors and intricate mosaic patterns, but littered with information as well.
The assembled picture displays certain overactive hotspots of energy and regions bursting with small solar flares that have been put under the observation of astrophysicists
It is considered to be the most astounding image snapped of our Sun, taken by astrophysicists at the same time from the three different locations on April 29th, 2015. It has allowed NASA to make previously unseen observations about the Sun and its continued mysteries.
The biggest one is considered to be the solar corona, which is the star’s overheated atmosphere, an array of thermal processes that is placed at a multimillion temperature. One of the greatest questions surrounding it is the paradox of the emitted plasma that is somehow hotter than the Sun’s uppermost layers beneath it, an issue that basic thermodynamics say it’s impossible.
The core should generally show the highest temperatures and decrease gradually toward its outer layers, but the solar corona emits flares that far exceeds the Sun’s surface.
This has led to various theories, including beliefs that nanoflares produce and emit enormous amounts of energy, which in turns heats up the corona, but so far it has only remained a theory. Nanoflares are small-scale events that take place on the surface of the sun, which has made it difficult for scientists to properly observe.
However, the x-ray images to be taken in the future by NuSTAR could provide the better information for proper observation and the telescope might shift its focus from its typical study subject of black holes to our closest star itself.
In its eleventh year of cycle, with its peak reached in 2013, the Sun is still too heated for study, but it’s expected to cool down a bit in the next few years. At least enough to measure the precise energy of the nanoflares by waiting for some of its most active regions to reduce their magnetic activity.
The news was fantastic for solar astronomers and NASA researchers, as the NuSTAR telescope may have diversified its portfolio, going from finding black holes potentially millions of light years away to studying the Sun from our own planet’s surface.
Image source: techtimes.com