Our Sun in the Light of the Hydrogen Alpha Spectral Line

  • Released Friday, June 15, 2018
View full credits

With the usual focus on satellite-based solar imagery, one often forgets about the important contributions of ground-based observatories. Here we present a movie of imagery collected at Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO) site as part of GONG (Global Oscillations Network Group) of the National Solar Observatory (NSO). The light from the Sun is passed through a filter that admits light from the hydrogen alpha spectral line (6562.8 angstroms or 656.28 nanometers) in the red region of the spectrum. This reveals many details which cannot be seen in our usual broad-spectrum view of the Sun, particularly filaments across the solar disk and limb.

Ground-based observatories are subjected to a number of challenges different from their space-based counterparts, including gaps in the visibility of their target (i.e. nighttime), clouds (some slightly visible in this movie) and atmospheric turbulence (also some visible here).

The spectral line for hydrogen alpha is a deep red and rather dark for regular digital displays. For this visualization, we have used a brighter 'blackbody' color table to improve visibility.


Please give credit for this item to:

Release date

This page was originally published on Friday, June 15, 2018.
This page was last updated on Wednesday, November 15, 2023 at 12:12 AM EST.

Datasets used in this visualization

  • H-Alpha [NSO GONG Network: H-alpha Telescope]

    ID: 1008
    Type: Observed Data Sensor: H-alpha Telescope Dates used: May 13, 2013 00:00UT to May 15, 2013 14:33UT

    Solar observation network located at various observatories around the world.

    Credit: This work utilizes GONG data from NSO, which is operated by AURA under a cooperative agreement with NSF and with additional financial support from NOAA, NASA, and USAF. The data was converted into images and movies at NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio.

    See all pages that use this dataset

Note: While we identify the data sets used in these visualizations, we do not store any further details, nor the data sets themselves on our site.