The Sun is shagadelic, baby!

By Phil Plait | August 9, 2012 7:00 am

The wonderful astrophotographer César Cantú takes amazing pictures of the sky, and his shots of the Sun are truly cool. On Wednesday, August 8, 2012, he took this image of the Sun and a sunspot called Active Region 1524:

The Sun is a 1970s orange shag carpet!

Actually, César used an Hα filter, which blocks almost all the light from the Sun except for a very narrow slice of color where hydrogen emits light, and in fact this is preferentially given off by hydrogen under the sway of magnetic fields on the Sun, so this image accentuates magnetic activity. You can see lots of structure like the sunspots and the plasma flowing along magnetic fields – especially along the Sun’s edge, where they’re called prominences.

The Sun looks amazingly different depending on how you look at it. Far from being a featureless white disk, it actually has detail all the way down to the resolution of our best telescopes. The surface of the Sun is fiendishly complex, and the amount to understand is equally daunting. And, as usual with astronomy, with this complexity comes astonishing beauty.

Image credit: César Cantú, used with permission.


Related Posts:

- The Sun’s angry red spot
- The two tails of Comet Garradd
- HUGE sunspots turning toward Earth
- The Sun roils over Mexico
- Heart and Skull nebula

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff, Pretty pictures

Comments (13)

  1. alfaniner

    My odd first thought was, “This is the first time I’ve ever seen a close-up picture of the Sun in …the daytime.”

  2. Jacob

    It looks more like a painting than a photo. Very beautiful.

  3. Riftmann

    ::shudder:: It looks exactly like the shag rug my parents use to have… eeek.

    alfanier… can’t really get a picture of the Sun at night, now can you? :P

    Jacob- On a more serious note, it looks like a Van Gogh, doesn’t it? Beautiful.

  4. Wzrd1

    I could sit and watch the sun all day if it weren’t so bright. ;)
    Seriously though, thanks for sharing that with us, Phil.

  5. ajollynerd

    Ooh! Active Region 1524! Sounds sexy!

  6. Leroy

    Can you explain how the h-alpha line of hydrogen is linked to magnetism? Are places where the magnetic field is greatest also places in which hydrogen is being ionized?

  7. Chris

    …Acutely aware that Americans don’t use the word “shag”, or “shagadelic”, quite like we do on this side of the pond.

  8. NotACat

    This is a wonderful image. I’d love to see it in motion, with one caveat. Whenever I see movies of the sun (or indeed any movies not in real time), I always look to see how much they’ve been slowed down or speeded up, and I am always disappointed. Why can creators of stop-motion movies not give an indication of how they relate to reality?

  9. RAF

    Um….Phil, you do know what the word “shag” means, right?

    I can’t write what it means, or this post would never be posted.

  10. Oh, RAF, coitus is nothing to be ashamed of. I am sure that Dr. Plait has seen at least one of the Austin Powers movies.

  11. RAF

    Excuse me , mike…I was trying to “help”.

    Never again….

  12. canadamonster

    WILL APOLLO SEND MEN TO THE SUN TO DRIVE A ROVER AROUND

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