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NASA’s NuSTAR gives glimpse of an amazing image of Sun

NASA’s NuSTAR gives glimpse of an amazing image of Sun

LONDON: Via NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, this amazing image of the sun is one of the first shot by the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR.
“NuSTAR will give us a unique look at the sun, from the deepest to the highest parts of its atmosphere,” said David Smith, a solar physicist and member of the NuSTAR team at University of California, Santa Cruz.
Scientists first thought of utilizing NuStar to study the sun about seven years ago, after the space telescope’s design and construction was already underway (the telescope launched into space in 2012). Smith had contacted the principal investigator, Fiona Harrison of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, who thought it over and became intrigued by the idea.
“At first I thought the whole idea was crazy,” says Harrison. “Why would we have the most sensitive high energyX-ray telescope ever built, designed to peer deep into the universe, look at something in our own back yard?” Smith eventually convinced Harrison, explaining that faint X–ray flashes predicted by theorists could only be seen by NuSTAR.
The first solar image captured by NuSTAR demonstrates that the telescope can indeed gather data bout the sun. It also gives insight into questions about the remarkably high temperatures that are found above sunspots – cool, dark patches on the sun. Future images will provide even better data s the sun winds down in its solar cycle, Boing Boing reported.
“We will come into our own when the sun gets quiet,” said Smith, explaining that the sun’s activity will wind down over the next few years.
With NuSTAR’s high-energy views, it has the potential to even capture hypothesized nanoflares – smaller versions of the sun’s giant flares that erupt with charged particles and high-energy radiation. Nanoflares – if they exist – may explain the sun’s outer atmosphere, called the corona, is sizzling hot, a mystery called the “coronal heating problem.” The corona is, on average, 1.8 million degrees Fahrenheit while the surface of the sun is cooler at 10,800 Fahrenheit.