NASA captured an eerie image of the ‘smiling’ sun

NASA captured an eerie image of the ‘smiling’ sun

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NASA’s observatory captured what appeared to be a lantern-like smile on the sun’s surface, showing what are actually spots on the sun’s surface that are cooler than the surrounding areas.

The footage, captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, was shared by the space agency on social media last week and has sparked an outpouring of responses to what the erratic dark spot pattern looks like.

The official Twitter account of NASA’s Heliophysics Division called it simply “smiling” sun, while the UK Science and Technology Council weighed in pumpkin photoshop into the picture, turning it into a jack-o’-lantern.

Other users have seen Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from the movie “Ghostbusters”, a liona blobfish or various snack food who wear smiley faces.

However, the dark areas that make up the face pattern are what are called coronal holes, which appear as irregular black spots when the sun is imaged with ultraviolet light or certain types of X-rays, according to space agency.

Coronal holes are not as hot as the surrounding regions and they are not as dense, which makes them darker in appearance. They can pop up on the surface of the Sun at any time.

Their magnetic field structure also sets up coronal holes to release streams of solar wind, or charged particles, at speeds in excess of a million miles per hour (1.6 million kilometers per hour). These winds are strong enough to reach Earth. Our planet magnetic field, which acts as a shield, largely deflecting solar wind activity, but can disrupt the atmosphere.

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, routinely takes such images of the sun and monitors its activity on an almost continuous basis. The orbiting observatory was launched in 2010 and is part of the space agency’s Living with a Star program, which aims to analyze how solar activity affects our home planet and the space between Earth and our home star.

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