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The Sun Today

Current and recent views of the Sun from observatories around the Earth and in space. Images are various wavelengths of visible light, ultraviolet, infrared, or X-ray emissions. Some pictures show the "surface" of the Sun; many others show material at specific heights and temperatures in the solar atmosphere.

Note: some images may be blank or "broken" at times; at night and on cloudy days (at least) for Earthbound observatories; at various intentional and accidental "down-times" for satellite-based solar telescopes.

X-ray image of the solar corona X-ray image of the Sun showing superheated plasma in the corona at temperatures between 3 and 5 million kelvins. Image courtesy of HINODE/NASA/JAXA.
Ultraviolet Sun at 17.1 nm Extreme ultraviolet image of the Sun showing hot plasma at temperatures around 1,000,000 kelvins. These emissions come from ionized iron atoms (Fe IX and Fe X) in the lower corona. Image courtesy of NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA).
Ultraviolet Sun at 19.3 nm Extreme ultraviolet image of the Sun showing hot plasma at temperatures around 1.5 million kelvins. These emissions come from ionized iron atoms (Fe XII) in the solar corona. Image courtesy of NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA).
Ultraviolet Sun at 30.4 nm wavelength Extreme ultraviolet image of the Sun showing hot plasma at temperatures around 60,000 to 80,000 kelvins. These emissions come from ionized helium atoms (He II) in the transition region of the Sun's atmosphere, on the border between the chromosphere and the corona. Image courtesy of NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA).
Calcium II K image of the Sun at 393 nm Violet/ultraviolet image of the Sun at a wavelength of 393 nm (on the border between purple visible light and ultraviolet radiation). These emissions come from ionized calcium atoms (Ca II K) in the Sun's chromosphere. Image courtesy of HAO's Mauna Loa Solar Observatory.
H-alpha image of the Sun at 656 nm
Red light image of the Sun at a wavelength of 656.3 nm. These emissions come from hydrogen atoms in the lower part of the Sun's chromosphere, within 1,700 km of the Sun's "surface". Astronomers call this wavelength band the "hydrogen alpha" emission line. Image courtesy of Big Bear Solar Observatory/New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Visible red light image of Sun

This visible light image of the Sun provides a view similar to what our eyes would see. The light in this image has a wavelength of 6,768 Ångstroms (the red portion of the visible spectrum) and is emitted by nickel atoms. This is a good view for detecting sunspots. Image courtesy of SOHO (ESA & NASA).

Magnetogram of the Sun This magnetogram of the Sun's "surface" shows the strengths of magnetic fields on the Sun. Dark areas have south polarity, while bright white regions have north polarity. Image courtesy of NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI).
Helium I image of the Sun at 10,830 angstroms Infrared (IR) image of the Sun at a wavelength of 10,830 ångströms (1,083 nm). These IR emissions come from helium atoms (He I) in the Sun's chromosphere. Image courtesy of the National Solar Observatory/Kitt Peak, NOAO.
Solar corona in visible light and IR Image of the Sun's corona in red visible light and infrared radiation at wavelengths between 700 and 950 nm (7,000-9,500 ångströms). This coronagraph has a central black disk that covers the "body" of the Sun, creating an artificial eclipse and revealing the solar atmosphere. Image courtesy of HAO's Mauna Loa Solar Observatory.


Space Weather

Space Weather Today

Last modified September 11, 2008 by Randy Russell.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA