Skip all navigation and jump to content Jump to site navigation Jump to section navigation.
NASA Logo - Goddard Space Flight Center + Visit NASA.gov
HOME PROJECTS RESOURCES SEARCH MAP

+ Advanced Search
Home
Home
View Most Recently Released Imagery
View Gallery of Imagery: A topical collection of SVS Imagery
Search Imagery by the keywords assigned to it
Search Imagery by the instruments that supplied data for a visualization product
Search Imagery by the series of visualizations that have been produced
Search Imagery by the scientist providing the data used in a visualization product
Search Imagery by the animator that created the product
Search Imagery by the identification number assigned to the visualization product
See other search options





  + RSS Feeds
  + Podcasts
blank image
Previous Animation Number   Next Animation Number
SDO Wavelength Graphics

Specialized instruments, either in ground-based or space-based telescopes, 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.

Yellow light of 5800 Angstroms, for example, generally emanates from material of about 10,000 degrees F (5700 degrees C), which represents the surface of the sun. Extreme ultraviolet light of 94 Angstroms, on the other hand, comes from atoms that are about 11 million degrees F (6,300,000 degrees C) and is a good wavelength for looking at solar flares, which can reach such high temperatures. By examining pictures of the sun in a variety of wavelengths — as is done through such telescopes as NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) and the ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) -- scientists can track how particles and heat move through the sun's atmosphere.

We see the visible spectrum of light simply because the sun is made up of a hot gas — heat produces light just as it does in an incandescent light bulb. But when it comes to the shorter wavelengths, the sun sends out extreme ultraviolet light and x-rays because it is filled with many kinds of atoms, each of which give off light of a certain wavelength when they reach a certain temperature. Not only does the sun contain many different atoms — helium, hydrogen, iron, for example -- but also different kinds of each atom with different electrical charges, known as ions. Each ion can emit light at specific wavelengths when it reaches a particular temperature. Scientists have cataloged which atoms produce which wavelengths since the early 1900s, and the associations are well documented in lists that can take up hundreds of pages.

Instruments that produce conventional images of the sun focus exclusively on light around one particular wavelength, sometimes not one that is visible to the naked eye. SDO scientists, for example, chose 10 different wavelengths to observe for its Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) instrument. Each wavelength is largely based on a single, or perhaps two types of ions — though slightly longer and shorter wavelengths produced by other ions are also invariably part of the picture. Each wavelength was chosen to highlight a particular part of the sun's atmosphere.

From the sun's surface on out, the wavelengths SDO observes, measured in Angstroms, are:

4500: Showing the sun's surface or photosphere.

1700: Shows surface of the sun, as well as a layer of the sun's atmosphere called the chromosphere, which lies just above the photosphere and is where the temperature begins rising.

1600: Shows a mixture between the upper photosphere and what's called the transition region, a region between the chromosphere and the upper most layer of the sun's atmosphere called the corona. The transition region is where the temperature rapidly rises.

304: This light is emitted from the chromosphere and transition region.

171: This wavelength shows the sun's atmosphere, or corona, when it's quiet. It also shows giant magnetic arcs known as coronal loops.

193: Shows a slightly hotter region of the corona, and also the much hotter material of a solar flare.

211: This wavelength shows hotter, magnetically active regions in the sun's corona.

335: This wavelength also shows hotter, magnetically active regions in the corona.

94: This highlights regions of the corona during a solar flare.

131: The hottest material in a flare.

Share: Share via E-mail E-mail   Share on TwitterTwitter
More information on this topic available at:
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/news/light-wavelengths.html

This collage of solar images from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) shows how observations of the sun in different wavelengths helps highlight different aspects of the sun's surface and atmosphere. (The collage also includes images from other SDO instruments that display magnetic and Doppler information.) For the 52MB Photoshop file click here .    This collage of solar images from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) shows how observations of the sun in different wavelengths helps highlight different aspects of the sun's surface and atmosphere. (The collage also includes images from other SDO instruments that display magnetic and Doppler information.)

For the 52MB Photoshop file click here.

Available formats:
  4096 x 4096     TIFF     36 MB
  4096 x 4096     JPEG       5 MB
  2048 x 2048     TIFF     16 MB
  2048 x 2048     JPEG       1 MB
  320 x 180         PNG     131 KB


Each of the wavelengths observed by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) was chosen to emphasize a specific aspect of the sun's surface or atmosphere. This image shows imagery both from the Advanced Imaging Assembly (AIA), which helps scientists observe how solar material moves around the sun's atmosphere, and the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI), which focuses on the movement and magnetic properties of the sun's surface.    Each of the wavelengths observed by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) was chosen to emphasize a specific aspect of the sun's surface or atmosphere. This image shows imagery both from the Advanced Imaging Assembly (AIA), which helps scientists observe how solar material moves around the sun's atmosphere, and the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI), which focuses on the movement and magnetic properties of the sun's surface.

Available formats:
  4096 x 3142     TIFF     15 MB
  4096 x 3142     JPEG       6 MB


Each of the wavelengths observed by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) was chosen to emphasize a specific aspect of the sun's surface or atmosphere. This image shows imagery both from the Advanced Imaging Assembly (AIA), which helps scientists observe how solar material moves around the sun's atmosphere, and the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI), which focuses on the movement and magnetic properties of the sun's surface.  Smaller version with text scaled appropriately.    Each of the wavelengths observed by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) was chosen to emphasize a specific aspect of the sun's surface or atmosphere. This image shows imagery both from the Advanced Imaging Assembly (AIA), which helps scientists observe how solar material moves around the sun's atmosphere, and the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI), which focuses on the movement and magnetic properties of the sun's surface. Smaller version with text scaled appropriately.

Available formats:
  2900 x 2200     TIFF       7 MB
  2900 x 2200     JPEG       1 MB

Short URL to This Page:http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/goto?11071
Animation Number:11071
Completed:2012-08-14
Producer:Scott Wiessinger (USRA)
Writer:Karen Fox (ASI)
Platform/Sensor/Data Set:SDO
Series:Solar Snapshots
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/SDO/Goddard Space Flight Center
 
Keywords:
SVS >> Solar Ultraviolet
SVS >> Sun
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Sun-earth Interactions
SVS >> Space Weather
SVS >> SDO
SVS >> Solar Dynamics Observatory
SVS >> Heliophysics
SVS >> Corona
 
 


Back to Top
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

USA.gov logo - the U.S. Government's official Web portal. + Privacy Policy and Important Notices
+ Reproduction Guidelines
NASA NASA Official:
Content Contact:
Curator: