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Hot, Hotter, Hottest! See the Sun from Its Surface to Upper Atmosphere
This colorful sequence of images shows the Sun – from surface to upper atmosphere.
Credit: NASA/GSFC/Solar Dynamics Observatory

This colorful sequence of images, taken on Oct. 27 by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, profiles the sun from surface to upper atmosphere. The first photo shows the surface of the sun in filtered white light, while the other seven images capture different wavelengths of extreme ultraviolet light, according to a statement from NASA.

From left to right, the images examine the sun in order of increasing temperature: the first one shows 6,000 degrees Celsius (10,800 degrees Fahrenheit) at the sun's surface, and the final photo reaches about 10 million degrees C (18 million degrees F). The images reflect that the sun's outer atmosphere, called the corona, is much hotter than its surface, creating a conundrum: Normally when you move away from a source of heat, the environment gets cooler, but the corona doesn't work that way.

While scientists are still exploring the reasons for this temperature difference, evidence suggests the heating mechanics depend on intermittent explosive bursts of heat, rather than on continuous gradual heating, NASA officials said in the statement.

Editor's note: You can see amazing night sky photos by our readers in our astrophotography archive here. If you have a night sky photo you'd like to share with us and our news partners for a possible story or image gallery, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at spacephotos@space.com.

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