Like me, you may have assumed that the sun looks the same from any angle, even from the top or bottom. Does it? Decide for yourself after viewing humanity’s best (non-secret) view of the top of our sun. Behold our great sun’s north pole!
Very cool but wait, … are you sure that’s not the rifle sight of a pipe-worlder defending his homeland against a giant moldy lemon that is invading (with the bright sky being blotted out behind)?
Pretty sure. Here’s how this image was created and what the black lines mean and so on:
Today, may we recommend a visit to the north pole of the sun? (Today’s forecast calls for a low of about 7,300 degrees Fahrenheit, or 4,000 degrees Celsius.)
Even with satellite footage, our view of the sun is pretty much limited to the solar disc — the circular profile of the sun that we can see plainly from Earth. The northern and southern poles of our closest star have never been directly observed, but scientists at the European Space Agency have made a habit of creating daily composite images of the sun’s north pole using some clever time-lapse photography. Yesterday’s image (Dec. 3), highlighted in a blog post on the ESA’s website, gives you a taste of the swirling, turbulent sea of plasma hidden atop the sun’s head.
Read more at LiveScience
On Monday, the ESA shared the image in a blog post, which is an artificial Proba-2 view of the solar north pole. The photo shows the sun’s creepy north pole as a pitch black area surrounded by a glowing golden circle.
This is directly from that mentioned ESA blog, which has the best high res images.
… The line across the middle is created due to small changes in the solar atmosphere that occurred over the timeframe of creating this image. This image also shows a bright bulge on the upper-right side of the Sun; this is created by a low-latitude coronal hole rotating around the solar disc. The polar coronal hole region, which can be seen as the dark patch in the centre of the solar disc, is a source of fast solar wind. It is seen here to contain a subtle network of light and dark structures, which may cause variations in solar wind speed.
While such views go a way towards revealing the secrets of the Sun’s poles – such as how waves propagate across our star, and how it may create phenomena such as coronal holes and ejections that go on to influence space weather around the Earth – direct observations of these regions are needed in order to build on past data gathered by Ulysses. …
The black lines are strips from images taken while Proba-2 was looking away from the sun. The discontinuity across the middle is there because the sun’s atmosphere changed while the image was being constructed.
Despite being a mock-up, the result could shed light on some of the sun’s secrets, such as how coronal holes and ejections form. Still, to study the poles properly, researchers will have to wait for the launch of ESA’s Solar Orbiter in 2020.
Mike from BGR summarized what most people really want to know after seeing this…
“AAAHH!? Is there a friggin’ giant black hole in the top of the sun??“
The answer is definitely no … as far as we know.
Obviously, this image doesn’t fully capture how bright the star would appear if you were actually viewing it from above. Put simply, you wouldn’t notice any of the structure you see in this patchwork snapshot with the naked eye.via BGR
From the proper vantage point, you would still just see the familiar old sun. Most likely. If you got up to a place in space where you could see the sun’s north pole, it would not have a dark spot at the top.
To people who sometimes enjoy space images of the sun, this new north pole image is less surprising. You get used to seeing adjustments needed to allow us to see solar details. The black in the images below would not look black to our eye, the darker areas are false color added to show different properties or they are adjustment so that only the very brightest events of interest will show up clearly in the image.
Enjoy the sun when you can, from whatever angle you have.