Gorgeous New Sun Science Stamps Highlight a Decade of Sun-Watching From Space

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Sun Science Stamps

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The U.S. Postal Service provided a set of stamps highlighting views of the Sun from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory on June 18, 2021. Credit: U.S. Postal Service

To start the summertime, the U.S. Postal Service provided a set of stamps highlighting views of the Sun from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. Showcasing a series of solar activity seen by the spacecraft, the stamps commemorate a years of Sun-expecting this workhorse objective. The Sun Science stamps were provided by the U.S. Postal Service throughout an event at the Greenbelt Main Post Office in Maryland on June 18.

“It’s such a pleasure to see these gorgeous stamps,” stated Dr. Nicky Fox, Division Director for NASA’s Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. “I look at each of these pictures from the Solar Dynamics Observatory and am reminded of how they help us learn more about the Sun and the way its constantly changing atmosphere can affect Earth and the planets. I’m pleased that this imagery will be shared by the Postal Service with the whole country.”

The Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, spacecraft was released on Feb. 11, 2010, and started gathering science information a couple of months later on. With 2 imaging instruments – the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly and the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager, which were created in show to supply complementary views of the Sun – SDO sees the Sun in more than 10 unique wavelengths of light, revealing solar product at various temperature levels. SDO likewise determines the Sun’s electromagnetic field and the movement of solar product at its surface area, and, utilizing a strategy called helioseismology, permits researchers to penetrate deep into the Sun’s interior, where the Sun’s complex electromagnetic fields grow from. And with more than a years of observation under its belt, SDO has actually offered researchers with numerous countless pictures of our star.

“What SDO has done is given us the ecology of the Sun,” stated Dr. Dean Pesnell, SDO task researcher at NASA Goddard. “We see events big, we see events small, and now we start to see how each size affects the others. It’s giving us the big picture, one detail at a time.”


NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory sees the Sun in more than 10 unique wavelengths of light, revealing solar product at various temperature levels. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

SDO’s long information record is especially beneficial for studying the Sun’s routine activity cycles, which swing in between low and high activity around every 11 years. During peaks in the cycle, solar activity like solar flares and coronal mass ejections – which can affect innovation on Earth and in area – are more typical. Though researchers’ understanding of this cycle has actually enhanced in years and centuries past, SDO’s information is assisting reveal much more information.  

“If we want to understand what makes the Sun tick, we need to have this long-term record,” stated Dr. Mark Cheung, primary private investigator for SDO’s Atmospheric Imaging Assembly at the Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory in Palo Alto, California. “We can track all those magnetic fields and sunspots moving around, and how that feeds into the next solar cycle – which is in its nascent phase now.”

The brand-new set of stamps functions 10 images from SDO. Explore the story behind the stamps’ style from the U.S. Postal Service.

Read on for more about the science behind each stamp.

Coronal Hole

Dark Coronal Hole

Credit: NASA/SDO

The dark location topping the northern polar area of the Sun is a coronal hole, a magnetically open location on the Sun from which high-speed solar wind gets away into area. Such high-speed solar wind streams can stimulate splendid auroral display screens on Earth when they hit our world’s electromagnetic field. These images were caught May 17-19, 2016, and the image on the stamp is from May 17. The images reveal the Sun in 211 Angstrom light, a wavelength of severe ultraviolet light. This kind of light is unnoticeable to our eyes and is taken in by Earth’s environment, so it can just be seen by instruments in area.

Coronal Loops

Bright Coronal Loops

Credit: NASA/SDO

Visible on the lower right of the Sun is a prominence, with its brilliant arcs traced out by charged particles spiraling along the Sun’s electromagnetic field lines. Coronal loops are frequently discovered over sunspots and active areas, which are locations of extreme and complicated electromagnetic fields on the Sun. These images were caught on June 18, 2015, in light at 304 Angstroms, a severe ultraviolet wavelength.

Solar Flare

Powerful X-class Solar Flare

Credit: NASA/SDO

The brilliant flash on the Sun’s upper right is an effective X-class solar flare. X-class flares are the most effective kind of solar flare, and these bursts of light and energy can disrupt the part of Earth’s environment where GPS and radio signals travel. These images were caught on August 9, 2011, in severe ultraviolet wavelength 335 Angstroms.

Active Sun

Active Sun

Credit: NASA/SDO

This view highlights the numerous active areas dotting the Sun’s surface area. Active areas are locations of extreme and complicated electromagnetic fields on the Sun – connected to sunspots – that are susceptible to appearing with solar flares or surges of product called coronal mass ejections. This image was caught on October 8, 2014, in severe ultraviolet wavelength 171 Angstroms.

Plasma Blast

Coronal Mass Ejection

Credit: NASA/SDO

These images reveal a burst of product from the Sun, called a coronal mass ejection. These eruptions of allured solar product can produce area weather condition impacts on Earth when they hit our world’s magnetosphere, or magnetic environment – consisting of aurora, satellite interruptions, and, when severe, even power blackouts. These images are a mix of severe ultraviolet wavelengths 171 and 304 Angstroms, caught on August 31, 2012.

Coronal Loops

Coronal Loops

Credit: NASA/SDO

These images reveal developing coronal loops throughout the limb and disk of the Sun. Just days after these images were taken, the Sun let loose an effective X-class solar flare. These images were caught in severe ultraviolet wavelength 171 Angstroms from July 8-10, 2012, and the image on the stamp is from July 9.

Sunspots

Sunspots

Credit: NASA/SDO

This view in noticeable light – the kind of light we can see – reveals a cluster of sunspots near the center of the Sun. Sunspots appear dark due to the fact that they are fairly cool compared to surrounding product, an effect of the method their incredibly thick electromagnetic field avoids heated product from increasing to the solar surface area. These images were caught October 20-26, 2014, and the frame on the stamp is from October. 23.

Plasma Blast

Plasma Blast

Credit: NASA/SDO

These images reveal a burst of plasma from the lower right of the Sun, which took place in combination with a mid-level solar flare. These images are a mix of severe ultraviolet wavelengths 171 and 304 Angstroms from October 2, 2014.

Solar Flare

Solar Flare

Credit: NASA/SDO

These images reveal another view of the August 9, 2011, X-class solar flare included in the blue-toned 335 Angstrom images. These images were caught in light at 131 Angstroms, a severe ultraviolet wavelength.

Coronal Hole

Coronal Hole

Credit: NASA/SDO

These images reveal a set of coronal holes, one near the Sun’s equator and one at the Sun’s South Pole. These images were caught in severe ultraviolet wavelength 193 Angstroms from January 9-12, 2011, and the frame on the stamp is from January 10.

SDO’s Atmospheric Imaging Assembly, which offers severe ultraviolet views of the Sun, was created and developed by the Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory. The Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager was created by Stanford University and developed by the Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory. SDO was developed and is run and handled by Goddard for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C.



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