NASA's Heliophysics Gallery

The Sun is a major influence on Earth's weather and climate. The focus of NASA's Sun-Solar System Connection is to understand this relationship from the perspective of the entire system.

You can find out more by visiting the Heliophysics Page, the NASA Living with a Star program, and the Solar-Terrestrial Probe web site.

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Recent Releases

Check out the latest media we have released relating to the Sun. Want to see more? View our full listing of Sun-related material.
  • Aging (Instruments) in Space
    2021.07.23
    The space environment is harsh not only on humans and other living organisms, but instruments also. Damage from solar energetic particles and cosmic rays can slowly degrade performance of an instrument. Fortunately there are ways to characterize and correct for this degradation. The graphics on this page are based on the tutorial AIApy: Modeling Channel Degradation over Time.
    After almost a year of operations, there is already a suggestion of a change in instrument response. Here we have AIA 304 data with the color table applied to the raw data (above) and the recalibrated data (below).
    Three years later, there is a much more noticeable difference in the calibrated vs. uncalibrated imagery. Another seven years and the difference is really difficult to miss.
  • An EPIC View of the Moon’s Shadow During the June 10 Solar Eclipse
    2021.07.21
    NASA’s EPIC, Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC), sits aboard NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory Satellite (DSCOVR). EPIC provides high quality, color images of Earth, which are useful for monitoring factors like the planet’s vegetation, cloud height, and ozone. And every once in a while –– most recently, June 10, 2021 –– it has the opportunity to capture a solar eclipse. A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon is positioned between the Sun and Earth, leading the Moon’s shadow to be projected onto Earth. During a total solar eclipse, the Moon completely blocks the Sun. During an annular solar eclipse, like the one on June 10, the Moon is near its farthest point from Earth and appears smaller than the Sun in the sky. As the two align, the Sun appears as a ring of fire surrounding the dark disk of the Moon. On June 10, viewers in parts of Canada, Greenland, and Russia were treated to a full annular eclipse. People in a handful of other locations, including parts of the Caribbean, Asia, Europe, eastern United States, Alaska, and northern Africa, were able to catch a partial solar eclipse, where only part of the Sun is blocked by the Moon, leaving behind a crescent-shaped piece of Sun. EPIC didn’t have too bad a view, either. You can find more photos and videos from EPIC, including a few lunar photobombs, here.
  • NASA Administrator Sen. Bill Nelson visits Goddard
    2021.06.25
    On June 25, 2021, NASA Administrator Sen. Bill Nelson visited the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. This is a compilation of edited B-roll from the employee social, Goddard Hyperwall Theater, and the Integration & Testing facilities tour.
  • Why Does NASA Observe The Sun in Different Colors?
    2021.06.18
    The Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, spacecraft was launched on Feb. 11, 2010, and began collecting science data a few months later. With two imaging instruments – the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly and the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager, which were designed in concert to provide complementary views of the Sun – SDO sees the Sun in more than 10 distinct wavelengths of light, showing solar material at different temperatures. SDO also measures the Sun’s magnetic field and the motion of solar material at its surface, and, using a technique called helioseismology, allows scientists to probe deep into the Sun's interior, where the Sun’s complex magnetic fields sprout from. And with more than a decade of observation under its belt, SDO has provided scientists with hundreds of millions of images of our star.
  • Monster Solar Filament Launch and CME
    2021.06.18
    A large filament of plasma erupted from the Sun in late August 2012. It was a structure that had 'hovered' over the solar surface for some time before finally being launched. Here are two views of the event - a fast version, illustrating more of the before and after configuration, sampled every 15 minutes; and a slow version, focused around the details of the actual eruption.
  • A Big Sunspot from Solar Cycle 24
    2021.06.18
    A leisurely view in the SDO Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) of a very large sunspot group transiting the solar disk in October of 2014. This spot was the visible light component of the active region cataloged as NOAA 12192.
  • Animation of USPS Stamps Featuring NASA's Solar Dynamic Observatory
    2021.06.17
    The U.S. Postal Service illuminates the light and warmth of our nearest star by highlighting these stunning images of the Sun on stamps. These images come from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, a spacecraft launched in February 2010 to keep a constant watch on the Sun. The Sun is the only star that humans are able to observe in great detail, making it a vital source of information about the universe. The Solar Dynamics Observatory lets us see the Sun in wavelengths of ultraviolet light that would otherwise be invisible to our eyes. Each black-and-white image is colorized to the bright hues seen here. The stamps highlight different features on the Sun that help scientists learn about how our star works and how its constantly churning magnetic fields create the solar activity we see. Sunspots, coronal holes and coronal loops, for example, can reveal how those magnetic fields dance through the Sun and its atmosphere. Observing plasma blasts and solar flares can help us better understand and mitigate the impact of such eruptions on technology in space. The Sun Science stamps are being issued as Forever stamps, which will always be equal in value to the current First-Class Mail 1-ounce price.
  • See the Sun like never before! Science of the Sun Shines Bright With New Stamps Showcasing Stunning Images From NASA’s Spacecraft Live Shots
    2021.06.10
    Get ready to see our Sun like never before! To celebrate the upcoming summer solstice, next week our Sun will take center stage nationwide on a new set of FOREVER STAMPS being released by the United States Postal Service. The stamps feature stunning images of the Sun captured by one of NASA’s premiere solar-observing telescopes. Chat one-on-one with NASA experts on Friday, June 18 between 6:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. EDT about what exactly is the summer solstice, what these new stamps are showing us about our closest star, and what it means that our Sun is ramping up activity. Our eyes can only see a narrow spectrum of light from the Sun, but space-based observatories can view the Sun in a wide swath of wavelengths allowing us to see features and activity our eyes cannot. Thanks to NASA’s solar missions like the Solar Dynamics Observatory we can see the Sun in exquisite detail like huge Earth-sized loops of solar material and massive flares. And now you can too -- just never look directly at the Sun! Our Sun is active and is always giving us reasons to watch it. Right now we’re at the start of a brand new solar cycle, meaning the Sun will slowly become more and more active over the course of the next several years. DETAILS: *To Schedule an interview: Please fill out this form: https://forms.gle/XLvyaybr8ckjFzTu8 *Please note: requests received after 12:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday, June 17th may not be accommodated. *Interviews will be conducted using video chat programs including Zoom and Skype, in 15-minute slots. For example 600-615 ET, 615-630 EDT, etc. *Our preferred program is Zoom and stations will have to send us a Zoom link to use. *Satellite interviews are not available. Please do not use an IFB unless necessary. *Spanish Interviews are available! Not able to do an interview but still interested running a VO/VOSOT?…. We will post canned interviews in English and Spanish. Associated B-Roll and canned material will be posted here https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/13870 by Thursday, June 17 at 4:00 p.m. EDT. SUGGESTED ANCHOR INTRO: The U.S. Postal service is releasing a new set of Forever Stamps today to celebrate the summer solstice, featuring images of the sun taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. The NASA solar-observing telescopes that produced these images allow us to examine our closest star in astonishing detail, as we’ve never seen it before. Here to tell us more about these new stellar stamps and our summer solstice is _________, of ___________. Suggested Questions: This weekend is the summer solstice. What is a solstice? The United States Postal Service just released stamps showcasing the Sun in wavelengths that we’re not used to seeing it in. Can you show us these images and tell us a little about what we’re seeing? The summertime means warmer weather, does the Sun also have seasons? How does all of this solar activity affect us on Earth? Will the sun's activity ramping up impact moon and mars missions? Where can we learn more? Longer interview questions What missions do we currently have studying the sun? NASA has two new missions that are currently orbiting closer to the Sun than ever before. What happens if they get hit by extreme solar weather as solar activity ramps up? There was a so-called “Ring of Fire” solar eclipse on June 10th that was visible at northern latitudes. When’s the next time North America will see an eclipse? How does studying our Sun help us better understand other stars in the universe?
  • The key to understanding solar explosions
    2021.06.07
    An unusual eruption on the Sun may offer clues to understanding our star’s mysterious explosions. The new research studied an event named the “Rosetta Stone'' of solar eruptions. Just as the Rosetta Stone was the key to understanding Egyptian hieroglyphics, studying this eruption could be the key to understanding all types of solar eruptions.
  • 2021 Annular Solar Eclipse
    2021.06.01
    On Thursday, June 10, 2021, the Moon passes in front of the Sun, casting its shadow across Canada and the Arctic. This is an annular (ring) eclipse — not to be confused with annual. At the time of the eclipse, the Moon is too far away from the Earth, and therefore too small in the sky, to completely cover the Sun. The central part of the shadow, where the silhouette of the Moon is completely surrounded by a ring of sunlight, is called the antumbra. The part of the shadow outside the antumbra, where observers see a partial eclipse, is the penumbra. In the animation, the antumbra is the small black oval. The streak it leaves in its wake is the path of annularity. Anyone within this path will see the annular ring effect when the antumbra passes over them. Steps in the shading denote different percentages of Sun coverage (obscuration), at levels of 80%, 60%, 40% and 20%. The images of the Sun show its appearance at a number of locations during the eclipse, each oriented to the local horizon. The numbers in the lower left corner give the latitude and longitude of the center of the antumbra as it moves, along with the altitude of the Sun above the horizon at that point. Also shown is the duration of annularity: for anyone standing at the center point, this is how long the ring effect will last. When these numbers are missing, the center of the shadow cone isn't touching the Earth. The map shows the global extent of the shadow during the eclipse. The antumbra is drawn at 10-minute intervals. The elongated shape is caused by the glancing angle of the Moon's shadow during this eclipse. The green lines (isochrons) are an indication of where the shadow is at different times. Everyone on those lines is experiencing their local maximum eclipse at the indicated times. The following table lists some of the constants and data used to create these media items.
    Earth radius6378.137 km
    Earth flattening1 / 298.257 (the WGS 84 ellipsoid)
    Moon radius1737.4 km (k = 0.2723993)
    Sun radius696,000 km (959.634 arcsec at 1 AU)
    EphemerisDE 421
    Earth orientationSOFA library iauC2t06a()
    Delta UTC69.184 seconds (TT – TAI + 37 leap seconds)
    ΔT69.363 seconds
    A number of sources explain Bessel’s method of solar eclipse calculation, including chapter 9 of Astronomy on the Personal Computer by Oliver Montenbruck and Thomas Pflager and the eclipses chapter of The Explanatory Supplement to the Astronomical Almanac. The method was adapted to the routines available in NAIF's SPICE software library.
  • The Solar Wind: A Heliophysics Sea Shanty (The Wellerman parody)
    2021.05.07
    Parodying the classic sea shanty The Wellerman, "The Solar Wind: A Heliophysics Sea Shanty" illuminates one of the primary connections between the Sun and Earth, the solar wind. The Sun releases a constant outflow of magnetized material, known as the solar wind. The solar wind causes a cascade of effects on space and Earth. The most brilliant of these is the aurora, glowing light shows that provide a stunning example of the Sun-Earth connection. Find the latest NASA heliophysics research at nasa.gov/sunearth.
  • NASA’s Parker Solar Probe Discovers Natural Radio Emission in Venus’ Atmosphere
    2021.05.03
    During a brief swing by Venus, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe detected a natural radio signal that revealed the spacecraft had flown through the planet’s upper atmosphere. This was the first direct measurement of the Venusian atmosphere in nearly 30 years — and it looks quite different from Venus past. A study published today in Geophysical Research Letters confirms that Venus’ upper atmosphere undergoes puzzling changes over a solar cycle, the Sun’s 11-year activity cycle. This marks the latest clue to untangling how and why Venus and Earth are so different.

Missions - Operational

Missions - Historical

Space Weather

  • Solar Wind
    List
    The steady outflow of particles from the solar surface.
  • Sunspots
    Gallery
    Large cooler regions on the solar photosphere where magnetic flux is concentrated.
  • Solar Flares
    Gallery
    Magnetic eruptions above the solar photosphere that emit x-rays and particles.
  • Coronal Mass Ejections
    List
    Large eruptions of particles from the Sun
  • Magnetosphere
    List
    The magnetic 'bubble' surrounding Earth, and some other planets.
  • Aurora
    Gallery
    The Northern & Southern lights, created by the interaction of the solar wind and Earth's magnetosphere with the atmosphere.
  • Space Weather Modeling
    Gallery

    Energetic events on the Sun can have dramatic impact on Earth and its magnetosphere. These natural events can have significant effects on Earth and space-based technologies that can cause anything from inconveniences (such as minor communications and power disruptions) to high-impact events that have significant political and economic implications (outages of large sections of the electrical power grid and other support infrastructure).

    To better meet these challenges, mathematical models of the heliospheric and geospace environment are under development to better forecast these solar energetic events and their impacts on Earth.

Solar Science

Heliosphere

Magnetospheres

Ionosphere, Thermosphere, Mesosphere (ITM)

NASA Heliophysics Resources

We live in an exciting environment: the heliosphere, the exotic outer atmosphere of a star. The heliosphere is an immense magnetic bubble that extends well beyond the orbit of Pluto. This bubble contains our solar system, solar wind, and the entire solar magnetic field. The heliosphere is also the one part of the cosmos accessible to direct scientific investigation; our only hands-on astrophysical laboratory. As our society becomes ever more dependent on technology, we are increasingly susceptible to space weather disturbances in this tumultuous region. We call the study of the connections between the sun and the solar system, Heliophysics.'

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