The Zen of the Sun

by Nancy Atkinson on May 23, 2012

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An active region on the Sun, processed in an unusual -- and accidental -- process. Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center.

Images and video from the Solar Dynamics Observatory have shown us that the fury of the Sun can be mesmerizingly beautiful. SDO has allowed us to see loops of plasma in various wavelengths, coils of magnetic fields that are invisible to human eyes, and so much more. And then, sometimes, happy accidents happen, creating beautiful images just for beauty’s sake. The teams at Goddard Space Flight Center’s Multimedia Center are wizards at honing SDO’s raw data into works of art, and video producer Scott Wiessinger sent a note today to say he accidentally happened across a “really neat Photoshop effect,” that while not really useful scientifically, is rather beautiful and fun to watch. “There isn’t any science behind this video, it’s just a nice ‘moment of zen,’” he said.

The video is below.

The lead image shows one of the original frames in the 171 Angstrom wavelength of extreme ultraviolet, with the additional processing. This wavelength shows plasma in the corona that is around 600,000 Kelvin. The loops represent plasma held in place by magnetic fields. They are concentrated in “active regions” where the magnetic fields are the strongest. These active regions usually appear in visible light as sunspots.

So, enjoy a little contemplative moment courtesy of the Goddard team:

The video shows about 24 hours of activity on September 25, 2011.

Thanks to Scott and the Goddard team for sharing their work! See more images with this unique processing at their website.

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also is the host of the NASA Lunar Science Institute podcast and works with Astronomy Cast. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

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