The Sharpest View of the Sun

Fascinating Sunspots

This stunning image shows remarkable and mysterious details near the dark central region of a planet-sized sunspot in one of the sharpest views ever of the surface of the Sun.

Along with features described as hairs and canals are dark cores visible within the bright filaments that extend into the sunspot, representing previously unknown and unexplored solar phenomena.

The filaments' newly revealed dark cores are seen to be thousands of miles long but only about 60 miles wide. Resolving features 60 miles wide or less is a milestone in solar astronomy and has been achieved here using sophisticated adaptive optics, digital image stacking, and processing techniques to counter the blurring effect of Earth's atmosphere.

At optical wavelengths, these images are sharper than even current space-based solar observatories can produce.