NASA releases first ever STEREO 3-D images showing that the Sun is a sphere (Photos)

By on Feb 8, 2011 in Astronomy, Headlines, Science Comments

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) released first ever STEREO 3-D images of the Sun on Sunday, apparently officially proving that it is a sphere, as shown in the photos below.

STEREO’s 90% coverage of the Sun
Photo credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

As published by NASA on its official website, its twin ‘stereo’ probes moved into position on the opposite sides of the Sun, which are now beaming back uninterrupted images of the entire star, front and back.

This latest photo of the Sun’s far side was based on high resolution STEREO data, which was taken on February 2, 2011 at 23:56 UT when a small gap between the STEREO ‘Ahead and Behind’ data is still present.

According to NASA, this gap started to close on Sunday, February 6, 2011 and will be completely closed over the next couple of days. This was also called the date of ‘opposition’, when STEREO-A and -B were 180 degrees apart, with both of them looking down on a different hemisphere.

“For the first time ever, we can watch solar activity in its full 3-dimensional glory,” Angelos Vourlidas said on the report, a STEREO science team member at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, DC.

“This is a big moment in solar physics. STEREO has revealed the sun as it really is–a sphere of hot plasma and intricately woven magnetic fields.” He added.

According to the report, each STEREO probe took pictures of each of the half of the star and beams the images to Earth, and researchers combine the two views to create a sphere.

Apparently, STEREO‘s telescopes were tuned to four wavelengths of extreme ultraviolet radiation chosen to trace key aspects of solar activity such as flares, tsunamis and magnetic filaments; which mean that the photos are not the usual pictures taken before.

With this, NASA researchers said this full view of the sun is will be a big help to improve space weather forecasts.

Sun’s latest image, based on STEREO data, taken on February 2, 2011 at 23:56 UT when there was still a small gap between the STEREO Ahead and Behind data.
Photo credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

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