With a specially designed telescope and a mastery of lucky imaging in celestial photography, an astrophotographer has captured a never-before-seen image of the sun and posted it on Reddit!
Many people were spellbound upon seeing the 145-megapixel image of the sun, which anybody can zoom into for a very detailed view of the corona and chromosphere.
The corona is the outermost layer of the sun’s gaseous atmosphere, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). This part is usually hidden by the brightness of the sun, hence it can be seen only during a total solar eclipse.
Despite its distance of 4.3 to 8.6 million miles from the sun’s surface, the corona is characterized by extremely high temperatures, which can reach up to 2 million degrees Fahrenheit. It is hotter than the chromosphere, or photosphere, which is about 5 kilometers from the sun’s surface and has temperatures only ranging from 8,492 up to 45,032 degrees Fahrenheit.
While the corona is a homogeneous shell of plasma, the chromosphere is composed of plasma and magnetic fields, where magnetic arcs, solar prominences, and other magnetic phenomena appear and fade away over and over again. This layer also acts as the interface region between the corona and photosphere, as energy and matter are transmitted, including the so-called heat bombs — one of the possible reasons why the corona gets extremely hot.
In his post, Reddit user ajamesmccarthy explained how he was able to come up with this amazing image of the sun: “This shot shows two layers of the solar atmosphere, the Corona and the Chromosphere, usually two layers that can’t possibly be photographed together due to the absolutely extreme differences in brightness. Since I composited in my shot of the 2017 Solar Eclipse, they can be seen relative to each other.”
He added, “The Chromosphere (the orange part) was captured last Tuesday, and was created by capturing a close-up image of each portion of the sun and stitching them all together. I applied lucky imaging techniques, which involved thousands of individual photos per tile, to conquer the atmospheric distortion that comes along with shooting something through the atmosphere at that focal length (nearly 4000mm).”
Ajamesmccarthy did warn everyone not to direct their telescope at the sun, since it could cause fire or blindness. In spite of having a specially designed instrument and years of experience, he admitted encountering several close calls.
But this astrophotographer must be feeling gratified by the many positive comments on his post. Some Redditors praised it by likening the image to a lost masterpiece of Vincent Van Gogh.
One Reddit user reacted with, “Damn, sun! This is majestic!”
Another commented, “This is awesome! No matter how many times I see stuff like this, it still makes me speechless. Thank you for sharing!”
This guy was also so impressed: “Cool, I’ll click it and remember connecting to the internet with Netscape on a 14.4Kbps modem that logs pictures like HEY THAT IS PRETTY INCREDIBLE, YOU’RE RIGHT!”Whizzco