June 30, 2022

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American astrophotographer Andrew McCarthy selected 30,000 images to create a mosaic that captures the Sun in high resolution from Florence, Arizona, USA

Astrophotographer captures swirling plasma on the surface of the sun in stunning high-resolution image

A photographer captured a 286-megapixel image of the sun during the most intense period of solar activity in decades.

The image shows huge fireballs rotating on the surface of the Sun, and it can be zoomed in to see the entire fiery mass in the finest detail.

Andrew McCarthy, known to his online followers as @cosmic-background, captured the images through a telescope last week, being careful not to blind the harsh rays.

The high-resolution image is a mosaic of about 50 pieces, each made up of 600 layered images.

The photographer has been pointing his telescope toward the sun for three years, and says it’s currently “the most active I’ve ever seen.”

The Sun appears to be transitioning into a particularly active period of its 11-year activity cycle, which began in 2019 and is expected to peak in 2025.

They produce solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) – powerful bursts of energy that can direct dangerous explosions toward Earth.

American astrophotographer Andrew McCarthy selected 30,000 images to create a mosaic that captures the Sun in high resolution from Florence, Arizona, USA

The image captures dark spots, known as active regions, on the surface of the Sun as well as bright sunspots erupting from the fireball.

The image captures dark spots, known as active regions, on the surface of the Sun as well as bright sunspots erupting from the fireball.

Regions

The “thin” regions on the outer edges are pockets of plasma trapped in the magnetic field, with lighter regions, known as “filaments” scattered across the rest of the Sun.

‘Seeing the full sun at this level of detail is probably not something many people haven’t seen in their lives,’ Andrew said.

During the period of increased solar activity, the sun will look like this all the time. This image is an indication that the 11-year cycle is approaching its maximum activity.

Going through 100,000 photos manually was the most boring part of the final photo.

Throughout most of the process, I didn’t even know I’d get a decent picture in the end. I was grateful when it turned out as good as it did.

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Andrew has individually selected the 30,000 photos that make up the final image out of a total of 100,000 photos.

The image captures dark spots, known as active regions, on the Sun’s surface as well as bright sunspots erupting from the fireball.

What is mass ejaculation?

Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are large clouds of plasma and magnetic field that erupt from the Sun.

These clouds can erupt in any direction, then continue in that direction, plowing through the solar wind.

These clouds only cause impacts on Earth when they are directed to Earth.

They tend to be much slower than solar flares, because they transfer a greater amount of matter.

Coronal mass ejections can occur when a storm on the Sun’s surface causes a whirlwind to form at the base of plasma rings erupting from the surface.

These rings are called prominences and when they become unstable they can break, releasing the CME into space.

The heliosphere, a layer in the Sun’s atmosphere, can be viewed as a very thin layer of hydrogen-alpha light because Andrew’s telescope is precisely tuned with a 5-inch-diameter refractor.

More “vellus” regions on the outer edges are pockets of plasma trapped in the magnetic field, known as the prominence, with lighter regions, known as filaments, spreading across the rest of the Sun.

Of these, sunspots, flares and coronal mass ejections erupt, capable of frying Earth’s surface if they get close enough.

Processed with false colors due to the filters Andrew had to use to photograph such a bright subject.

The two filters he used with his specialized telescope, to prevent a fire and blinding of the photographer.

Colors are also partially inverted – which is why sunspots appear dark – in order to visualize the highlights.

Andrew captured the masterpiece through a telescope in his backyard in Florence, Arizona, USA.

“I spent about four hours catching the sun this day, and I spent most of it capturing two hours of the long sunspot interval,” he said.

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Full sun was captured over a period of approximately 45 minutes but the curing process took several days.

“It was a particularly windy day, so I had to go in and manually remove the bad photos as the wind hit my binoculars.”

The photographer took a picture of the earth next to the sun to measure it

The photographer took a picture of the earth next to the sun to measure it

The Sun has a diameter of 864,400 miles (1391,000 km) - about 109 times the diameter of the Earth.  The star is so large that it can fit about 1,300,000 planet Earths inside it.

The Sun has a diameter of 864,400 miles (1391,000 km) – about 109 times the diameter of the Earth. The star is so large that it can fit about 1,300,000 planet Earths inside it.

Andrew McCarthy ordered a two-filter telescope, in order to prevent a fire and blindness.  Filters mean that the colors in the images are partially inverted

Andrew McCarthy ordered a two-filter telescope, in order to prevent a fire and blindness. Filters mean that the colors in the images are partially inverted

In December, Andrew took what he described as “the clearest image of the Sun ever”.

Layering 150,000 individual images of the Sun to convey the incredible, intricate detail of the largest star in the Solar System.

All of this can be seen in the final 300MP photo – 30 times larger than the standard 10MP camera photo.

Despite his actions, Andrew is careful to urge others not to look directly at the sun unless they have specialized equipment.

He said: Don’t point a telescope at the sun unless you know what you’re doing.

Seeing so much activity on the Sun is always exciting to me as an amateur astronomer, and it’s an opportunity to share something new with my fans on social media.

For this reason, I am always thrilled to see something new. These images were particularly difficult to obtain due to the circumstances, so getting them to look good was exciting.

Andrew McCarthy layered 150,000 individual images of the Sun to convey the amazing, intricate details of the Solar System's largest star in December 2021

Andrew McCarthy layered 150,000 individual images of the Sun to convey the amazing, intricate details of the Solar System’s largest star in December 2021

according to Model From physicists at the University of Warwick and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), the current solar cycle will be one of the few best ever observed.

The solar cycle is an approximately 11-year cycle of solar activity driven by the sun’s magnetic field, measured in terms of differences in the number of sunspots.

Scientists predicted that we would observe a maximum number of sunspots somewhere between 210 and 260 in Solar Cycle 25, which began in December 2019.

This means that the Sun can produce more electrons and protons than before, making solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) more frequent than they have been in the past decade.

Our star has been experiencing increased activity for several months and last month released its strongest solar flare in five years.

Scientists are concerned that the sun’s increased activity could lead to potentially dangerous solar weather that could damage electrical grids, disable satellites and harm astronauts and space equipment on the International Space Station.

The Sun: The Basics

The Sun is the star at the core of the Solar System, an almost entire sphere of hot plasma, radiating energy.

Three-quarters of a star is made up of hydrogen, followed by helium, oxygen, carbon, neon, and iron.

It is a G-type main sequence star and is sometimes called a yellow dwarf.

The Sun formed from the gravitational collapse of matter into a large molecular cloud that gathered in the center.

The rest was flattened into an orbital disk that shaped everything else.

facts and figures

he slepte: Sun

well-known planets: eight

Spectral type: G2

distance: distance: 2.7×10^17 km

Mass: 1.9885 x 10^30 kg

radius: 696,342 km

Glitter: 3.828 x 10^26 W

temperature: 9,929 F

age: 4.6 billion years