NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) this week captured a picture of the sun in ultraviolet light with three dark spots that look like a smiley face – a face that could signal a solar storm with trouble for Earth.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Space Weather Prediction Center Posted a small geomagnetic storm watch effective for Saturday. While geomagnetic storms can create beautiful dawn in the sky, they can also interfere with GPS and create harmful currents in the power grid and pipelines.
The dark spots, known as coronal holes, are regions where the solar wind escapes faster and easier into space, making those regions cooler. These winds can blow up to 1.8 million miles per hour, according to Exploratorya museum in San Francisco.
NASA took pictures of the sun in 2014 that also looked like a jack-o’-lantern, captioning the photos “Pumpkin Sun.” The regions that made up the face of the jack-o’-lantern were active regions from the sun, marking disturbances in the magnetic field that produce solar storms like solar flares and coronal mass ejections.
Because the human eye cannot perceive certain wavelengths of sunlight, solar physicists use telescopes capable of imaging the sun in the extreme ultraviolet spectrum. SDO uses 13 different wavelengths of light to highlight a particular part of the sun’s atmosphere.
“Ultraviolet light from the sun can show us the origins of solar storms that can lead to power outages, cell phone disruptions and package shipping delays due to rerouting of planes from the pole,” Joseph said. Gurman, scientist at Solar. Data Analysis Center at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, said Nasa.
Wednesday’s image was taken at a light of 193 Angstroms, which gives it the light yellow and orange hue. The 2014 image was taken with a light mix of 171 and 193 angstroms, coloring the sun gold and yellow “to create a Halloween-like appearance”, according to Nasa.
Both images were captured in October in time for the Halloween season.