From The Times
April 22, 2010
Mark Henderson, Science Editor
Spectacular new pictures of the Sun have been captured by a recently-launched orbiting solar telescope, offering an unprecedented view of the star that warms our planet.
Click to view image: 'photo 1'
The high-resolution images, which are ten times more detailed than those of high-definition television, were taken from Nasa’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which took off from Cape Canaveral in February.
Click to view image: 'photo 2'
Data from the spacecraft will transform scientists’ understanding of the Sun’s magnetic field, and its solar flares and coronal mass ejections that send spurts of charged particles tearing out into space, sometimes towards Earth.
Richard Fisher, director of the Heliophysics Division at Nasa Headquarters in Washington, said: “The first images are now at hand, and they show us the details of the Sun that have not been available to us. Their impact will be truly revolutionary, and I mean that in the sense that the Hubble Space Telescope has revolutionised our view of astrophysics.”
The mission involves several British scientists, including a group at the University of Central Lancashire which is handling much of SDO’s data.
Robert Walsh, of the University of Central Lancashire, said: “I have been astounded at the clarity of these first images. They show us the awe inspiring magnitude of the Sun’s power through violent eruptions and solar storms at a quality we never thought possible.
“The incoming tidal wave of data is set to play a major role in enabling us to make the next leap forward in understanding our Sun-Earth connection.”
Professor Len Culhane, of the Mullard Space Science Laboratory at University College, London: “The SDO project is an unprecedented opportunity to build a deeper understanding of the Sun and the impact of solar activity on the solar system, including Earth.
“During its five-year mission, SDO will reveal the underlying physics of solar variability, study the causes of severe space weather, and reveal the impact of these solar variations on space missions, aircraft, satellite communications, navigation system and even the supply of electrical power to our homes.”
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