Sure, the surface of the sun is hot and all, but the sun’s atmosphere is hotter — by a factor of 1,000. And as it turns out, it’s not just hot like “will burn you up faster than a Tony Robbins seminar” hot. It’s also hot like gorrrrrrrrgeous.
Scientists know that the sun’s atmosphere (the corona) is hot as hell, but they don’’t know exactly how it behaves. So a smarter-than-smart NASA scientist decided to make a colored image of its heating and cooling patterns. The result is fabulous:
The sections that are red, orange, and yellow are cooling, and the sections that are blue and green are heating up (because unlike us mere mortals, NASA scientists can handle subverting the long-standing understanding that red = hot and blue = cold).
In the 12-hour period covered by the picture, most sections were cooling, which means sections of the corona probably heat up really, really quickly and then spend a more leisurely amount of time cooling down.
Science aside, though, how beautiful is that image? It’s as if the sun had been putting on a show all along that no one was paying attention to. You can almost hear this star’s sigh of artistic relief: Finally, someone who understands my work.
Look at This: The Sun’s Corona in Vivid Color, Discover Magazine.