We are now seeing the Sun in a new light — literally.
NASA has released some never-before-seen images of the Sun taken by the agency’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR.
The array is typically used to see objects outside our solar system such as black holes and collapsed stars, but recently it has been looking at objects a little closer to home.
NASA released a composite image of the Sun that shows the hidden light that the star releases.
The NuSTAR layer, which is a mosaic of 25 images, is blue, with an X-ray layer provided by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Hindoe mission in green and finally a red layer from the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.
The blue points are only seen in about half a dozen hot spots while the green layer covers most of the Sun and shows low-energy X-rays. The SDO’s AIA makes the ultraviolet layer visible across the entire Sun.
The images may help answer an age-old question — why is the outer atmosphere, or corona, of the Sun 100 times hotter than the surface?
The heating difference may be attributed to nanoflares, or small eruptions in the atmosphere, that can be too faint to see normally but can be detected by NuSTAR.