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.

February 17, 1997

A Wind From The Sun

Explanation: A wind from the Sun blows through our Solar System. The behaviour of comet tails as they flapped and waved in this interplanetary breeze gave astronomers the first hint of its existence. Streaming outward at 250-400 miles/second, electrons and ions boiling off the Sun's incredibly hot but tenuous corona account for the Solar Wind - now known to affect the Earth and other planets along with voyaging spacecraft. Rooted in the Solar Magnetic Field, the structure of the corona is visible in this composite image from the EIT and UVCS instruments onboard the SOHO spacecraft, extending a million miles above the Sun's surface. The dark areas, known as coronal holes, represent the regions where the highest speed Solar Wind originates.

Tomorrow's picture: A Big Cliff On Jupiter's Callisto

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.