Solar Collage Shows Sun’s Different Wavelengths

By Jason Fitzpatrick on January 24th, 2013

When it comes to the Sun, we’re most familiar with the wavelengths in the visible spectrum it beams down to Earth, but when viewed with the right equipment a rainbow of diverse wavelengths emerge.

Courtesy of NASA and their Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), we’re treated to a rather novel look at the surface of the sun. They write:

Taking a photo of the sun with a standard camera will provide a familiar image: a yellowish, featureless disk, perhaps colored a bit more red when near the horizon since the light must travel through more of Earth’s atmosphere and consequently loses blue wavelengths before getting to the camera’s lens. The sun, in fact, emits light in all colors, but since yellow is the brightest wavelength from the sun, that is the color we see with our naked eye — which the camera represents, since one should never look directly at the sun. When all the visible colors are summed together, scientists call this “white light.”

Specialized instruments, either in ground-based or space-based telescopes, however, can observe light far beyond the ranges visible to the naked eye. Different wavelengths convey information about different components of the sun’s surface and atmosphere, so scientists use them to paint a full picture of our constantly changing and varying star.

Hit up the link below for the full article and a more detailed look at how they capture the images and what observing the different wavelengths tells us.

Sun Primer: Why NASA Scientists Observe the Sun in Different Wavelengths [NASA]

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 01/24/13
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