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        Images of the Sun

        The stunning photographs in this media gallery were captured by satellites that orbit the Sun, taking images of its surface and atmosphere using different wavelengths of light that illuminate different solar features and activity. Specialized instruments in the telescopes of the European Space Agency/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) and NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) collect light in wavelengths that the human eye cannot see. They then convert the information into colorized images that give scientists detailed information about sunspots, solar flares, and other solar processes.

        To view the Background Essay and Teaching Tips for this media gallery, go to Support Materials below. This resource was developed through WGBH’s Bringing the Universe to America’s Classrooms project, in collaboration with NASA. Click here for the full collection of resources.

        Ultraviolet Sun

        This glowing orange orb is an image of the Sun in ultraviolet light (a wavelength of light that humans can’t see). The image was captured on September 24, 2008, by the SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) spacecraft, which orbits between the Sun and Earth.

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        Large Sunspot

        A gigantic sunspot almost 80,000 miles across (the equivalent of 10 Earths placed side by side) can be seen on the lower center of this image of the Sun from NASA’s Solar Dynamic Observatory, recorded on October 23, 2014.

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        Dynamic Sun

        This composite picture of the Sun in ultraviolet light contains multiple layers of data from some of the first images taken by cameras on the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) on March 30, 2010, showing never-before-seen detail of solar activity.

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        Visualizing Our Sun

        This chart shows the different wavelengths of light that NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory uses to view various features of the Sun as well as solar activity.

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        The Sun from Earth

        This image establishes the everyday sight of the Sun in the sky, as seen from Earth. Light from the Sun contains visible light—all the colors of the rainbow that we can see with the naked eye—as well as colors that we cannot see—such as ultraviolet light.

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