Well, this is one of the coolest things I’ve seen all week. NASA released a new video of the Sun, captured by the twin STEREO spacecraft. The video, in Quicktime format, covers 2.5 days of the Sun, and shows it slowly rotating, with solar prominences blasting out into space.
If you want to just cut straight to the video, check it out here.
The series of images were captured by STEREO from August 16-18, 2007, and then stitched together into a single animation. The prominences that you see on the edges of the Sun were captured in extreme ultraviolet light by the Ahead spacecraft (the one leading the Earth in orbit). And if you watch right to the end, you’ll see a prominence on the upper side arch away into space.
Just amazing to watch.
Just in case you need a reminder, NASA’s STEREO mission is a set of twin solar observing spacecraft. One is leading the Earth in our orbit around the Sun, and the other is trailing behind us. Because of their different points in space, they’ll be able to create a 3-dimensional view of events on the Sun’s surface – just in the same way your eyes give you depth perception. They launched in October, 2006 on board a Delta II rocket.
One of the best uses of this binocular vision will be to trace the path of coronal mass ejections; especially the ones headed towards Earth. With STEREO, astronomers will be able to know right away if a CME is headed our way, and can help power companies and satellite operators prepare for some rough space weather. And they’ll be able to give us a better idea of when to head outside and see an aurora.
I think this mission is going to be one of the surprising hits for astronomy fans. Make sure you get a pair of 3-D glasses to really enjoy some of the STEREO movies.
Original Source: NASA STEREO Site