Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2006 December 4

Movie: The Active Sun
Credit: Solar Optical Telescope, Hinode Satellite, JAXA

Explanation: Plumes of hot gas shoot across the surface on even an average day on the Sun. Such volatile activity was captured in dramatic detail recently by the new Hinode satellite launched by Japan in late September. Near the horizon, active regions around a sunspot eject hot plasma along the magnetic field lines that connect the sunspot to surrounding regions in the solar atmosphere. Bright regions are hotter and more active. The bubbling granularity and continuous activity of the Sun's photosphere is visible in the foreground. The above movie in representative colour covers a solar region of 8,000 kilometres. On some computers, the above MPG movie will only play correctly after a player is downloaded, movie downloading is complete, and the page is refreshed. The raw MPG movie file is available here.

Tomorrow's picture: ancient calculator

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