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Van Gogh Sun

A crucial, and often underappreciated, facet of science lies in deciding how to turn the raw numbers of data into useful, understandable information — often through graphs and images. Such visualization techniques are needed for everything from making a map of planetary orbits based on nightly measurements of where they are in the sky to colorizing normally invisible light such as X-rays to produce "images" of the sun.

More information, of course, requires more complex visualizations and occasionally such images are not just informative, but beautiful too.

Such is the case with a new technique created by Nicholeen Viall, a solar scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. She creates images of the sun reminiscent of Van Gogh, with broad strokes of bright color splashed across a yellow background. But it's science, not art. The color of each pixel contains a wealth of information about the 12-hour history of cooling and heating at that particular spot on the sun. That heat history holds clues to the mechanisms that drive the temperature and movements of the sun's atmosphere, or corona.

To look at the corona from a fresh perspective, Viall created a new kind of picture, making use of the high resolution provided by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). SDO's Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) provides images of the sun in 10 different wavelengths, each approximately corresponding to a single temperature of material. Therefore, when one looks at the wavelength of 171 Angstroms, for example, one sees all the material in the sun's atmosphere that is a million degrees Kelvin. By looking at an area of the sun in different wavelengths, one can get a sense of how different swaths of material change temperature. If an area seems bright in a wavelength that shows a hotter temperature an hour before it becomes bright in a wavelength that shows a cooler temperature, one can gather information about how that region has changed over time.

Viall's images show a wealth of reds, oranges, and yellow, meaning that over a 12-hour period the material appear to be cooling. Obviously there must have been heating in the process as well, since the corona isn't on a one-way temperature slide down to zero degrees. Any kind of steady heating throughout the corona would have shown up in Viall's images, so she concludes that the heating must be quick and impulsive — so fast that it doesn't show up in her images. This lends credence to those theories that say numerous nanobursts of energy help heat the corona.

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More information on this topic available at:
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/news/colorful-science.html

Narrated video.    Narrated video.

For complete transcript, click here.
Duration: 2.1 minutes
Available formats:
  1280x720 (59.94 fps) QT         1 GB
  1280x720 (59.94 fps) QT         673 MB
  1280x720 (29.97 fps) QT         136 MB
  1280x720 (29.97 fps) QT         75 MB
  1280x720 (29.97 fps) WMV         64 MB
  1280x720 (30 fps) QT         60 MB
  960x540 (29.97 fps) MPEG-4   59 MB
  1280x720 (29.97 fps) MPEG-4   47 MB
  640x360 (29.97 fps) MPEG-4   21 MB
  1280x720   JPEG         822 KB
  320x180     JPEG         117 KB
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Combination of the source SDO AIA 171 image and the temperature change map made using 211 and 171 angstrom light.    Combination of the source SDO AIA 171 image and the temperature change map made using 211 and 171 angstrom light.

Available formats:
  800 x 800         JPEG   790 KB


Time lag temperature map made from SDO AIA data over a 12-hour span.  335 angstrom and 171 angstrom wavelength ultraviolet light. Credit: NASA/SDO AIA/Viall    Time lag temperature map made from SDO AIA data over a 12-hour span. 335 angstrom and 171 angstrom wavelength ultraviolet light.

Credit: NASA/SDO AIA/Viall

Available formats:
  711 x 727         PNG     756 KB


Time lag temperature map made from SDO AIA data over a 12-hour span.  211 angstrom and 193 angstrom wavelength ultraviolet light. Credit: NASA/SDO AIA/Viall    Time lag temperature map made from SDO AIA data over a 12-hour span. 211 angstrom and 193 angstrom wavelength ultraviolet light.

Credit: NASA/SDO AIA/Viall

Available formats:
  711 x 727         PNG     379 KB


Time lag temperature map made from SDO AIA data over a 12-hour span.  211 angstrom and 171 angstrom wavelength ultraviolet light. Credit: NASA/SDO AIA/Viall    Time lag temperature map made from SDO AIA data over a 12-hour span. 211 angstrom and 171 angstrom wavelength ultraviolet light.

Credit: NASA/SDO AIA/Viall

Available formats:
  711 x 727         PNG     537 KB


Time lag temperature map made from SDO AIA data over a 12-hour span.  335 angstrom and 193 angstrom wavelength ultraviolet light. Credit: NASA/SDO AIA/Viall    Time lag temperature map made from SDO AIA data over a 12-hour span. 335 angstrom and 193 angstrom wavelength ultraviolet light.

Credit: NASA/SDO AIA/Viall

Available formats:
  711 x 727         PNG     742 KB


Time lag temperature map made from SDO AIA data over a 12-hour span.  211 angstrom and 131 angstrom wavelength ultraviolet light. Credit: NASA/SDO AIA/Viall    Time lag temperature map made from SDO AIA data over a 12-hour span. 211 angstrom and 131 angstrom wavelength ultraviolet light.

Credit: NASA/SDO AIA/Viall

Available formats:
  711 x 727         PNG     678 KB


Time lag temperature map made from SDO AIA data over a 12-hour span.  193 angstrom and 171 angstrom wavelength ultraviolet light. Credit: NASA/SDO AIA/Viall    Time lag temperature map made from SDO AIA data over a 12-hour span. 193 angstrom and 171 angstrom wavelength ultraviolet light.

Credit: NASA/SDO AIA/Viall

Available formats:
  711 x 727         PNG     508 KB

Short URL to This Page:http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/goto?11046
Animation Number:11046
Completed:2012-07-18
Animator:Scott Wiessinger (USRA) (Lead)
Video Editor:Scott Wiessinger (USRA)
Narrators:Scott Wiessinger (USRA)
 Nicholeen Viall (NASA/GSFC)
Producer:Scott Wiessinger (USRA)
Scientist:Nicholeen Viall (NASA/GSFC)
Writers:Scott Wiessinger (USRA)
 Karen Fox (ASI)
Platforms/Sensors/Data Sets:SDO/AIA/193 Filter
 SDO/AIA/211 Filter
 SDO/AIA/171 Filter
 SDO
 SDO/AIA/131 Filter
Series:Narrated Movies
 SDO - Edited Features
 Solar Snapshots
Goddard TV Tape:G2012-068 -- Impressionist Sun
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/SDO. However, individual images should be credited as indicated above.
 
Keywords:
SVS >> HDTV
SVS >> Music
SVS >> Solar Flare
SVS >> Solar Ultraviolet
SVS >> Sun
SVS >> SDO
SVS >> Edited Feature
SVS >> Solar Dynamics Observatory
SVS >> Heliophysics
DLESE >> Narrated
SVS >> Corona
Science paper:http://iopscience.iop.org/0004-637X/753/1/35/
 
 


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Many of our multimedia items use the GCMD keywords. These keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation:
Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version 8.0.0.0.0

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