A new image of the sun shows a cornucopia of X-ray and ultraviolet colors erupting from it. Our sun is in an active period with plenty of sunspots and flares, as it leaves the peak of a cycle that takes place every 11 years. According to Iain Hannah, an astrophysicist at the University of Glasgow, our sun still has a couple of years before it reaches a minimum.
The most active regions are highlighted in blue, and were captured by NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR). Less active regions (in green) were seen by Japan’s X-ray Telescope instrument on the Hinode spacecraft. Ultraviolet wavelengths are shown off in yellow and green from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.
By studying the sun, scientists hope to better understand the secrets of the solar cycle. While NuSTAR is commonly used to look at black holes, the satellite also can be used as a tool for solar observations.
NuSTAR could be used to find exactly where eruptions on the sun occur, and also to find a hypothetical dark-matter particle called the axion. Dark matter is a mysterious substance that is undetectable by conventional instruments except for its effect on other objects — such as how it bends light.
Another amazing discovery brought to you by x-ray technology!