No words

By Phil Plait | June 21, 2012 8:05 pm

Astrophotographer Alan Friedman’s latest. Just click it.

Here’s an explanation of what you’re seeing. Links to more of his soul-stirring photos are below.

Image credit: Alan Friedman


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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Pretty pictures
MORE ABOUT: Alan Friedman, Sun

Comments (14)

  1. quarksparrow

    It’s probably for the best that the Sun is usually an eye-searingly bright and featureless disc, because I find H-alpha photos to be frikkin’ terrifying.

    Awesomely, awesomely terrifying.

  2. Muz

    Fabulous shot.

  3. I can see a pareidolic koala. In original 2196 x 2157 image, the koala’s eye is at 1197 x 463, and it is facing right.

  4. AliCali

    It’s fitting that he did this at Mt. Wilson. So many discoveries of the Sun were made at Mt. Wilson, like that sunspots are cooler areas of the sun, and that they exhibit heavy magnetic fields (first time magnetic fields were ever detected outside of Earth). Also discovered there were the polarity shift of magnetic fields in the sunspot, the fact that the Sun doesn’t rotate the same rate among different latitudes, and the five-minute oscillation of the entire Sun.

    He also mentioned that he had fantastic seeing at Mt. Wilson. That’s actually the observatory’s best physical quality; it is among the locations with the best seeing in North America. It’s a shame the light pollution shut down the deep sky science.

  5. Rachel Walmsley

    Of the prominent dark areas, the one on the bottom left is really interesting. Zoom into the high-res version, and it looks for all the world like magnetic force lines around a bar magnet. Would love to know precisely what’s going on there.

  6. beezelBug

    An absolutely stunning picture now my desktop background.
    Like this the sun looks “furry”, makes you want to stroke it.

    More pareidolia there are 3 fingers at location 1300 x 907 looks like someone is sinking

  7. Cindy

    #5: Rachel,

    They probably are magnetic field lines. Sunspots are regions of intense magnetic fields and it’s the magnetic fields that are disrupting the convection of the Sun which makes them cooler. It’s probably the charged plasma following the magnetic field lines. Sunspots do have a magnetic north and south polarity, although you usually don’t see them as two distinct spots. SOHO and SDO satellites have images that show the magnetic polarity.

  8. Doug

    Looks like a pot of oatmeal with clumps of hair floating in it.

  9. John

    Can you take a holiday from the sun pictures? It’s hotter than a [expletive deleted] today!

  10. Wzrd1

    @5, Rachel, it IS plasma following magnetic field lines.
    The sun is a set of massive dynamos that generate incredibly strong magnetic fields. Those dynamos are caused by “rivers” of plasma far below the “surface” and convection cells that distort them. That causes the magnetic fields to go from moderately tangled to unbelievably tangled.
    It’s those tangles that we see as prominences and other features that give us such beautiful sights.
    When those tangles “short out”, they have a part of those field lines disconnect, which gives us flares and CME’s (Coronal Mass Ejection).
    There are magnetic field models of the sun, including the dynamos. To call it complex is to make a massive understatement!
    But then, the complexities of nature are CRAZY cool! Even when that cool is hot plasma. :)

  11. ERic

    Did you mean ‘soul-stirring’, or ‘sol-stirring’?;)

  12. josie

    I love staring at the sun.

  13. Matt B.

    I love this. I’ve learned enough from this blog to recognize instantly that the sun’s rotational pole is tilted about 60 degrees clockwise in this photo.

  14. Lenny V

    It has eyes!

    …And they’re watching us…

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