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.
January 7, 1997
Explanation: The Sun is leaking. In fact, it is gushing: particles stream away from the Sun at hundreds of kilometres per second. Some of these particles strike the Earth and cause aurora. Most particles, however, either surround the Sun as a huge solar corona or glide into interstellar space as the solar wind. Don't worry about the Sun totally evaporating - it loses too little mass to have any lasting effect. The above false-colour picture was taken with the Large Angle and Spectrometric Coronograph on board the SOlar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). This instruments blocks out the central solar disk so it can image the regions surrounding the Sun. The large streamers visible are typical. Where these charged ions get their enormous streaming energy is still a mystery!
Authors & editors:
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.