Magnetic Structure (April 4, 2005)
Hi-res TIF image (2.9M)
The Sun on 29 March 2005 had a just couple of sunspots that appeared as dark areas on the surface when viewed in visible light (as in the yellow image). These are the sites of intense magnetic fields emerging from the Sun's interior. But, we can see beneath the surface to see what the Sun is doing magnetically. The magnetic image (in black and white) taken almost simultaneously reveals these clusters of activity with the black and white areas indicating north and south magnetic polarity. The magnetically active regions in which sunspots are found are often the sources of solar storms.
The video clip shows the correlation of the two kinds of images. These images were taken by the Michelson Doppler Imager (MDI) instrument on SOHO. The MDI can also probe below the visible surface of the Sun by measuring the strengths of millions of modes of oscillation of the solar surface.
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