NASA instrument shows never-before-seen Sun's innermost corona

Posted By: Anita Nair
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Washington, Jan 5 (ANI): An instrument aboard NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), developed by Smithsonian scientists, has provided never before seen views of the innermost corona 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The corona, which is the outer layer of the Sun's atmosphere is hotter than the Sun's surface and becomes visible only when the Sun is blocked, which happens for just a few minutes during an eclipse.

"We can follow the corona all the way down to the Sun's surface," saideon Golub of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA).

The only way astronomers could view the corona earlier was by physically blocking the solar disk with a coronagraph, but the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) instrument on SDO can "fill" this gap.

"The AIA solar images, with better-than-HD quality views, show magnetic structures and dynamics that we've never seen before on the Sun," said CfA astronomer Steven Cranmer.

The images obtained will be used to study the initial eruption phase of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) as they leave the Sun and to test theories of solar wind acceleration based on magnetic reconnection. (ANI)

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