HomeNewsHalloween 2020: NASA Reveals Spooky Image Captured of Sun’s Surface

Halloween 2020: NASA Reveals Spooky Image Captured of Sun’s Surface

by Jennifer Shea
Fabio Teixeira/NurPhoto

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is sharing an eerie picture of the sun looking like a giant jack-o-lantern.

The solar image resembles a “giant floating space pumpkin,” NASA told Fox News.

A NASA Jack-O-Lantern

In a Thursday post to the NASA website, the space agency said the image showed active regions on the sun on Oct. 8, 2014.  The active regions together sort of resemble two eyes and a grin.

NASA explained that the active regions stand out against the backdrop of the sun because those regions give off more light and energy. They’re signs of “an intense and complex” group of magnetic fields hanging in the corona, the sun’s atmosphere.

“This image blends together two sets of wavelengths at 171 and 193 angstroms, typically colorized in gold and yellow, to create a particularly Halloween-like appearance,” NASA said in the post. Angstroms are the unit of measurement for wavelengths of light. 

The Sun’s Atmosphere

The image was taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory, a NASA satellite that launched in February 2010. Its aim is to study the effects of solar weather on the Earth’s magnetosphere.   

The sun’s corona is usually difficult to see due to the overpowering light from the sun’s surface. But it’s possible to see it during a total solar eclipse. That’s when the moon obstructs the light from the sun. The corona is visible then as a glowing white light around the eclipsed sun.

The solar magnetic field flips every 11 years. It last happened in 2014, according to NASA.

“The sun’s polar magnetic fields weaken, go to zero and then emerge again with the opposite polarity,” solar physicist Phil Scherrer said. “This is a regular part of the solar cycle.” 

The effects of changes in the sun’s magnetic field are far-reaching. They travel all the way out to the Voyager probes, which are in interstellar space, the area between star systems outside of our solar system.