Update 1: NASA’s NuSTAR takes stunning first solar portrait of the Sun

NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) has taken its first picture of the sun.

NuSTAR, the highest power X-ray telescope, has managed to produce the most sensitive solar portrait ever taken in high-energy X-rays.


NuSTAR’s image is laid over another picture by Solar Dynamics Observatory.

According to NASA:

Green shows energies between 2 and 3 kiloelectron volts, and blue shows energies between 3 and 5 kiloelectron volts. The high-energy X-rays come from gas heated to above 3 million degrees.

The red channel represents ultraviolet light captured by SDO at wavelengths of 171 angstroms, and shows the presence of lower-temperature material in the solar atmosphere at 1 million degrees.

“NuSTAR will give us a unique look at the sun, from the deepest to the highest parts of its atmosphere,” said David Smith, a solar physicist and member of the NuSTAR team at University of California, Santa Cruz.

The sun is far too bright for other telescopes to capture, such as NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. However, NuSTAR is capable of looking directly at it without the risk of damaging its detectors.

This solar image from NuSTAR shows that the telescope can be used to collect data about sun, providing insight into questions about the extremely high temperatures found just above sunspots – cool, dark patches on the sun.

NuSTAR is a Small Explorer mission led by Caltech and managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The spacecraft was built by Orbital Sciences Corporation.

NASA Video – Holiday Lights on the Sun

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