NASA Telescope Snaps 1st Photos of Mystery Region on the Sun
NASA’s newest solar observatory has taken its first photos of the lowest layers of the solar atmosphere, a mysterious and little-understood region of the sun.
The images, taken just 21 hours after mission controllers first opened the telescope’s door, reveal new details of the sun’s lower atmosphere — an area known as the “interface region.” The IRIS spacecraft (short for Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph) captured images of thin magnetic structures and streams of material in the solar atmosphere. These early observations suggest tremendous amounts of energy flow through the interface region, according to NASA officials.
"With this grand opening of the telescope door and first observations from IRIS, we’ve opened a new window into the energetics of the sun’s atmosphere," John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., said in a statement. "We look forward to the new insights IRIS will provide."
The door covering the IRIS telescope was first opened on July 17, allowing it to take its first photographs of the sun. These photos showed thin, fiber-like structures that have never been seen before in the solar atmosphere, NASA officials said.
IRIS also observed vast differences in density and temperature throughout the sun’s interface region, even between loops of solar material located only a few hundred miles apart from each other, the scientists said. The spacecraft also captured spots that appear to blink — rapidly brightening and then dimming — which could indicate how the energy is being transported and absorbed in this area of the sun’s atmosphere.
Energy that flows through the interface region may help power the sun’s dynamic atmosphere, and heat the upper layers of the solar atmosphere to scorching temperatures of about 1.8 million degrees Fahrenheit (1 million degrees Celsius), NASA officials explained.
The features observed in the lower layers of the sun’s atmosphere may also drive the solar wind, which flows through the entire solar system. During powerful solar storms, the streams of charged particles that make up the solar wind can knock out satellites in their path, causing power grid failures and disrupting GPS services.
During its two-year mission, IRIS will closely study the sun’s interface region, where most of the star’s ultraviolet emissions are generated. The spacecraft will examine how solar material moves, gathers energy and heats up as it travels through this part of the lower atmosphere.
Over the next few weeks, scientists will inspect the IRIS data to ensure that the spacecraft’s instruments are performing well. So far, mission managers are impressed.
"The quality of the images and spectra we are receiving from IRIS is amazing — this is just what we were hoping for," Alan Title, IRIS principal investigator at Lockheed Martin in Palo Alto, Calif., said in a statement. "There is much work ahead to understand what we’re seeing, but the quality of the data will enable us to do that."
Posted on Thursday, 25 July
- fifihe likes this
- bigworld-infiniteworld reblogged this from electro-magnetism
- youcanbemylittlehero likes this
- roxettegold reblogged this from astrodidact
- pizzaswitheveryoneonit likes this
- antonioblackburn reblogged this from themastermoor
- megacosms likes this
- memoriesthatarenotmine reblogged this from mentalalchemy
- a-cali-guy-in-texass reblogged this from astrodidact
- beauteousevening likes this
- xburningsilence reblogged this from mentalalchemy
- yzabellatherevolutionary reblogged this from mentalalchemy
- tol6667 likes this
- kylelahner likes this
- themastermoor reblogged this from ihrlaa
- themastermoor likes this
- mariahgem likes this
- baba-yagas-rose reblogged this from astrodidact
- baba-yagas-rose likes this
- rulorulez reblogged this from astrodidact
- rulorulez likes this
- mackaroot reblogged this from astrodidact
- sclr likes this
- vtorisarobot reblogged this from kchannel9
- deadwicked reblogged this from hackr
- deadwicked likes this
- cenwatchglass likes this
- supersymmetry10 reblogged this from astrodidact
- yourmindsokay reblogged this from mentalalchemy
- holographicamericans reblogged this from kchannel9
- holographicamericans likes this
- almost-new-york likes this
- beemill likes this
- hackr reblogged this from ihrlaa
- hackr likes this
- fourpercentofteuniverse reblogged this from astrodidact
- rassolen likes this
- lavenderlightly likes this
- avenuecalledlife reblogged this from mentalalchemy
- clearlysamelliot likes this
- strikerrauser reblogged this from astrodidact
- strikerrauser likes this
- gabriellegrib likes this
- abstractcabbage reblogged this from astrodidact
- abstractcabbage likes this
- leestoppacing likes this
- exiut reblogged this from sccuum
- kchannel9 reblogged this from mentalalchemy
- huxleysnightmare likes this
- mandelbulbtumbler reblogged this from astrodidact