NASA image shows Sun ‘smiling’ down at us

The sun surely seems to be smiling down on us. NASA released an image taken by its Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) where the Sun seems to have two dark eyes, a bright round nose and a wide-open smile.

“Say cheese! Today, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory caught the Sun “smiling.” Seen in ultraviolet light, these dark patches on the Sun are known as coronal holes and are regions where fast solar wind gushes out into space,” tweeted a NASA Twitter account.

According to CNN, the dark areas that seemingly form a ‘face’ on the Sun are coronal holes, which are cooler denser regions in the Sun’s corona. They appear dark in images taken in ultraviolet light and in this instance, they coincidentally happen to form what looks like a smiling face.

Solar Dynamics Observatory: NASA’s eyes on the Sun

Launched in 2010, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory is a spacecraft that studies how solar activity happens and how that impacts the entire solar system. SDO takes observations of the Sun’s interior, surface and atmosphere.

In the interior, it studies the solar dynamo, which is the churning of the star’s interior that creates a magnetic field and drives space weather. It observes the solar surface to measure this magnetic field and the solar atmosphere to help scientists understand how magnetic energy is linked to the interior and how it causes space weather events. Importantly, it also measures the extreme ultraviolet irradiance of the Sun, an important factor that contributes to the structure and composition of our planet’s upper atmosphere.

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