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First Images From Hinode Offer New Clues About Our Violent Sun
Erica Hupp/Dwayne Brown
Headquarters, Washington
(202) 358-1237/1726

Steve Roy
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.

Photo release: 06-143

Hinode X-Ray Telescope image of the sun + Large (2502 x 2649, 300 ppi)
+ Medium (516 x 546, 72 ppi)
+ Small (100 x 75, 72 ppi)

This image of the sun was taken Oct. 28 by Hinode's X-Ray Telescope. One of three instruments on board Hinode, The X-Ray Telescope is designed to capture images of the sun's outer atmosphere, the corona. The corona is the spawning ground for explosive activity on the sun, such as coronal mass ejections. Powered by the sun's magnetic field, this violent activity produces significant effects in the space between the sun and Earth.

This image reveals, for the first time, that X-ray bright points are composed of magnetic loops. It also reveals details of structure in the polar region of the sun, along with active-region loops. The X-Ray Telescope is imaging the corona in a way that has been possible only since approximately 1960. Previously, the sun’s corona was viewable in white light only during solar eclipses.

By combining observations from Hinode's optical and X-ray telescopes, scientists will be able to study how changes in the sun's magnetic field trigger these powerful events. (Hinode JAXA/NASA/PPARC)

Hinode's Solar Optical Telescope + Large (1385 x 1249, 300 ppi)
+ Medium (516 x 465, 72 ppi)
+ Small (100 x 75, 72 ppi)

Hinode's Solar Optical Telescope is the first space-borne instrument to measure the strength and direction of the sun's magnetic field in the sun's low atmosphere, also called the photosphere. This image from the Solar Optical Telescope shows a greatly magnified portion of the solar surface. Energy from below the surface of the sun is transported by convection and results in the convection cells, or granulation, seen in this image. The lighter areas reveal where gases are rising from below, while the darker "intergranular lanes" reveal where cooler gases are sinking back down. (Hinode JAXA/NASA/PPARC)

Hinode's Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrometer + Large (905 x 324, 72 ppi)
+ Medium (516 x 185, 72 ppi)
+ Small (100 x 75, 72 ppi)

Although capable of generating images, the primary function of the Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrometer is to measure the flow velocity, or speed of solar particles, and to diagnose the temperature and density of solar plasma -- the ionized gas that surrounds the sun, its corona and beyond. The Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrometer provides a crucial link between the other two instruments because it can measure the layers that separate the photosphere from the corona -- an area known as the chromosphere and the chromosphere-corona transition. The Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrometer image compares the corona as seen by Hinode's X-Ray Telescope with two Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrometer wavelengths that correspond to the upper chromosphere and corona of the Sun.

The large peaks in the plot show the Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrometer spectral range at approximately 19.50 nanometers, 19.35 nanometers, and 18.82 nanometers. A very small unit, nanometers measure the wavelength of light and very small objects. For comparison, a human hair is about roughly 80,000 nanometers in diameter. At 19.50 nanometers, the Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrometer is observing a layer of the sun corresponding to the upper chromosphere/lower corona. (Hinode JAXA/NASA/PPARC)

+ News Release