The Moon photobombs NASA's view of the Sun
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/SDO/Joy Ng
- The Moon, Earth’s natural satellite, was seen photobombing
NASA’s view of the Sun on October 16.
- The ‘lunar transit’ lasted around 50 minutes and covered 44% of the Sun’s visible surface.
- The Moon’s fly-by also covered the
Solar Dynamics Observatory’s (SDO) fine guidance sensors making the Sun ‘jitter’ in the image.
NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) was launched in February of 2010 to help scientists on Earth understand variations in the Sun that can potentially influence life on Earth and its technological systems.
As the Moon chose to fly by the spacecraft, it also covered two of the SDO’s fine guidance sensors. This makes it appear as though the Sun ‘jitters’ slightly during observation.
NASA’s takes on the Sun
The SDO is crucial for tracking radiation from the Sun that’s headed towards Earth. The hope is to eventually predict when radiation may impact satellites or astronauts in space to protect them from its adverse impact.
The SDO does this by providing NASA with ultra-high-definition imagery of the Sun measured in 13 different wavelengths. It uses two imaging instruments to do so — the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) instrument and the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI).
Each wavelength was chosen to highlight a particular part of the Sun's atmosphere, from the solar surface to the upper reaches of the Sun's corona.
The Moon's photobomb is shown while observing the AIA 171 wavelength emitted by iron-9 (Fe IX) at around 600,000 Kelvin. This wavelength shows the quiet corona and coronal loops and is typically colorized in gold.
The image also shows the Sun’s lower half, which displays two active regions. These regions are areas where the most intense magnetic fields on the Sun are located. They are often associated with solar activity and eruptions.
Now that the 25th Solar Cycle is underway, scientists expect more active regions to appear in the coming months.
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