Spotting the Sun

This image within an image is the latest--and perhaps most stunning--view of last week's total solar eclipse. The blotchy orange portion is the solar surface and lower atmosphere as seen by the extreme ultraviolet imaging telescope instrument aboard the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory spacecraft, which is hovering between Earth and the sun. The surrounding white ring is a photo of the sun's corona taken during the eclipse using a telescope on the island of Aruba The corona is seen as a shimmering veil around the moon during a total solar eclipse. It consists of electrically charged gas, heated to 1 million degrees Celsius, that streams from the solar surface at 400 kilometers per second. By combining the two types of images, scientists hope to learn how events on the solar surface--such as explosive flares and coronal mass ejections that can wreak havoc with communications on Earth--influence the corona and the resulting solar wind. The solar eclipse, which occurred 26 February, was the last to be seen in the continental United States until August 2017.

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