Thursday, July 19, 2012

SDO + Helioviewer = A colourful SUN

image data courtesy of NASA/SDO/Helioviewer processed by Me.
The Internet lets you do some amazing things these days. Lots of astronomy related citizen science and crowd sourcing projects can keep you busy almost 24 hours a day. The Sungrazer project has allowed me to discover over thirty comets, and has resulted with my name being mentioned in a few scientific papers. Just being an observer or a science image browser can be very satisfying. When you let the big guys know about what you have seen, then sometimes they recognise that a new piece of the grand puzzle has been found.

A not so new place to look at scientific images of the SUN is the web based Helioviewer. This site allows you to look at the almost real time images being generated by the Solar Dynamics Observatory , SDO. You can see images at a number of  different wavelengths and create single images or even long sequence animations. The amount of detail to be seen, and very interesting solar structures, when animated make my jaw drop every time.

Generally, the different wavelength images are presented in false colours, red, blue, yellow and the like. What I want to show you here is a feature of the Helioviewer site that lets you move beyond plain red blue or yellow images and sequences. Using the opacity slider with up to three wavelengths results in very interesting images that I think show more details and the direct relationships between the dynamic structural features. Features seen in one wavelength are sometimes not seen in other wavelengths, when merged in to an opacity blended set of images the relationship becomes apparent.

So what colours look good, I like these sets of image wavelengths, lots of structure to be seen.

And then when you make an small movie of a few days a spinning sun looks amazing.
follow these links for a better view in Helioviewer

Here is the settings in the Helioviewer Images tool that I have used here.
 Note the position of the Opacity slider.
Have fun...