This series of images were taken on June 14, 2012, using a telescope which lets through only one shade of red light called hydrogen-alpha light. This light comes from the atmosphere of the Sun, and reveals features such as sunspots and plages. Sunspots, relatively cool regions, appear as dark dots. Plages are hot clouds that hover above sunspots, appearing as a brighter yellow.
The images highlight the effects of a pair of solar flares, flashes of high-energy light caused when magnetic loops on the Sun collide. These flares happened only a few minutes apart in sunspot 1504, the large sunspot toward the lower center of the images. The first flare peaked at 10:08 am EDT, and the second at 10:35 am. They are classified as moderate M1.5 and M1.9 flares. The intense radiation of the flares heated up the plages near the sunspot, making them glow white.
Over the course of the next several hours, the hottest part of the plages moved around, partially covering sunspot 1504, and then faded. The frames at right are close-ups of the sunspot region where the flares occurred.
Telescope: Lunt 100mm hydrogen-alpha
Camera: Lumenera Skynyx 2-2M
Image Number: WEB12501-2012
Credit: Image by Geneviève de Messières and Emily Berkson, Smithsonian Public Observatory Project
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