Hot Lines

  • Released Tuesday, July 9th, 2013
  • Updated Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023 at 1:52PM

Magnetic field lines dance above the surface of the sun. Called coronal loops, these lines are difficult to observe from afar, since they are invisible. Scientists can observe them in two ways: by watching the visible solar material that flows along the lines or by modeling them using computer simulations. Studying these formations help us understand the way energy travels on and around the sun. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO, is a sun-observing spacecraft that can measure and depict distortions in the sun’s magnetic field. Using data collected by the spacecraft, scientists created a virtual, 3D model of the field lines. Watch the video to explore the loops.

The sun's outer atmosphere, called the corona, is 1,000 times hotter than the sun’s surface.

The sun's outer atmosphere, called the corona, is 1,000 times hotter than the sun’s surface.

Coronal loops are only visible in ultraviolet light. The loops have been colored green in this model.

Coronal loops are only visible in ultraviolet light. The loops have been colored green in this model.

Coronal loops are often found near sunspots, such as the one seen in this image captured by SOHO.

Coronal loops are often found near sunspots, such as the one seen in this image captured by SOHO.


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Credits

Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center