Astronomy Picture of the Day
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October 25, 1995
Painting with Solar Neutrons
Solar flares are propelled
high above the Sun's
surface by powerful, twisted magnetic fields.
The flares spew high energy atomic and subatomic particles into space.
During an intense solar flare on June 15, 1991,
a spray of solar neutrons was detected by the
COMPTEL instrument onboard NASA's Compton Gamma Ray Observatory.
Like paint from a spray can, the neutrons
formed the above image (seen in false colour) on the COMPTEL detectors.
Such astronomical images made by high energy particles are unusual,
astronomers typically use visible light and other forms of
electromagnetic radiation to study the Universe. High energy
particles from solar flares affect the Earth and near Earth
solar activity is constantly monitored.
Tomorrow's picture: Aurora Astern
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