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"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious; It is the source of all true art and science." -- Albert Einstein

Scientific Images & Animations

Click on each image to see it full-sized.

Animation of STEREO spacecraft and coronal mass ejection

STEREO Graphics Gallery Animations- NEW!

STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory) is the third mission in NASA's Solar Terrestrial Probes program (STP). This two-year mission will provide a unique and revolutionary view of the Sun-Earth System. The two nearly identical observatories - one ahead of Earth in its orbit, the other trailing behind – will trace the flow of energy and matter from the Sun to Earth as well as reveal the 3D structure of coronal mass ejections and help us understand why they happen.

Animation: STEREO spacecraft and coronal mass ejection. Credit: NASA / Walt Feimer.

Sun and Earth with density rubersheets along the XY and XZ planes, some magnetic field lines, and vector flows.

The Sun is a major influence on the Earth's weather and climate. The focus of NASA's Sun-Solar System Connection is to understand this relationship from the perspective of the entire system. This gallery features videos and animations of the sun, including solar flares, coronal mass ejections, and the solar cycle.

For more videos and animations, visit Science Highlights from NASA's Sun-Earth Connection

Simulation of Solar Convection

This simulation of turbulent convection mirrors activity at the Sun's surface.

The Sun as Art

The Sun as Art, a 21-page image set assembled by SOHO Media Specialist Steele Hill, presents a new way of looking at the Sun. Steele's goal was to highlight the artistic range of colors and shapes and beauty that can be derived from a little manipulation of the already-glorious SOHO images. In some cases an image has only been cropped; in some, only color tables were altered; in the most inventive, pieces have been cut and moved around. "At times whimsical and other times instructive, the presentation tries to suggest the variety and wonder of the Sun that SOHO has brought to us."

SOHO's Halo Orbit

These images are visualizations of the information needed to compute the orbit for the SOHO spacecraft. SOHO needed a convenient location, orbiting around the Sun, between the Earth and Sun, and where the gravitation of the Sun and the Earth balance. Computing exactly that site ("the 3-body problem") and maintaining the spacecraft there, are difficult issues. These visualizations were created to help the scientists and engineers visualize the information which they needed to compute the (L1) orbit point.

Images courtesy of Chris Sinclair, University of Arizona, and Molly Megraw, previously University of Washington.

L-NU Diagrams (Power Spectra)

The Sun resonates like a huge musical instrument. But, unlike an instrument tuned to a single frequency, the Sun resonates in tens of millions of ways all at the same time. The frequency, often called nu, of each mode reveals something about a different part of the Sun's interior, where the sound waves travel.

The l-nu figures (period versus wavelength) show how much acoustic energy there is at each frequency for every one of the spatial modes of oscillation.

Help -- I don't understand LNU diagrams!

Calibration Image

This image is used to process solar data by compensating for inherent changes in brightness across the solar disk. The data are corrected pixel by pixel by a power series

where N varies depending upon the type of data.

Please explain calibration images

(Image generated by Lyle Bacon of the SOI team, Stanford.)

Comet Hale-Bopp's Dust Clouds

A huge cloud of hydrogen, seventy times wider than the Sun!, surrounded Comet Hale-Bopp when it neared the Sun in the spring of 1997. This awesome image portrays these clouds of dust deposited in our solar system The little yellow dot in the lower right is our Sun, drawn to scale. The small photo insert shows the comet's tails, also drawn to scale. Earth would be much too small to see here, as would the comet itself, which is only a few miles in diameter. Our solar system is actually filled with hydrogen and dust, most of it left by comets such as Hale-Bopp.

I'd like to know more about this image and the cometary dust clouds.

Helicity in the Solar Corona

Electric currents flow through the Sun's coronal (atmospheric) structure in contorted and picturesque ways. These images, based on coronal observations from the Yohkoh spacecraft, show coronal structures in the shape of a forward or backward S.

Solar magnetic fields are thought to be generated jointly by differential rotation and turbulent convection. described by kinetic helicity in a thin transition region between solar convection and radiation zones (somewhere about 200,000 km below the visible solar surface). Generally speaking, the helicity describes what kind of handedness, or direction, is preferable for the flow, left or right hand screw.

M. C. Escher used helicity concepts in his famous drawings.

Images courtesy of Alexei Pevtsov, R.C. Canfield, A.N. McClymont.

black hole spectra signature

Black Hole Signature

While this colorful zigzag is not a picture of our Sun, it is the signature of a supermassive black hole (a collapsed super-sun) in the center of galaxy M84, discovered by Hubble's Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph.

I thought you couldn't see a black hole?

Gary Bower, Richard Green (NOAO), the STIS Instrument Definition Team, and NASA.

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