Astronomy Picture Of the Day (APOD)Grey Sun Seething
The Sun's surface is not smooth. It has thousands of bumps called granules and usually a few dark depressions called sunspots. Each of the numerous granules is the size of an Earth continent, but much shorter lived.
Red Sun Streaming
The Sun is leaking. In fact, it is gushing: particles stream away from the Sun at hundreds of kilometers per second. Some of these particles strike the Earth and cause aurora. Most particles, however, either surround the Sun as a huge solar corona or glide into interstellar space as the solar wind.
Blue Sun Glaring
The Sun is a bubbling ball of extremely hot gas. In this false-color picture, light blue regions are extremely hot - over 1 million degrees, while dark blue regions are slightly cooler. The camera filter used was highly sensitive to the emission of highly charged iron ions, which trace the magnetic field of the Sun.
Too Close to a Black Hole
What would you see if you went right up to a black hole? Above are two computer generated pictures highlighting how strange things would look. On the left is a normal star field containing the constellation Orion. Notice the three stars of nearly equal brightness that make up Orion's Belt.
A Star Where Photons Orbit
The above computer animated picture depicts how a very compact star would look to a nearby observer. The star pictured is actually more compact that any known except a black hole, so it is only hypothetical. The observer is situated at the photon sphere, where photons can orbit in a circle.
A Wolf-Rayet Star Blows Bubbles
Wolf-Rayet stars can blow bubbles. These unusual stars are much hotter and more luminous than our Sun. All extremely massive stars will eventually evolve though a Wolf-Rayet phase. Approximately 200 Wolf-Rayet stars are known in our Milky Way Galaxy. Wolf-Rayet stars generate bubbles because they continually eject their outer atmosphere as a stellar wind.
Bubbles and Arcs in NGC 2359
What caused the bubbles and arcs in NGC 2359? The main suspect is the Wolf-Rayet star in the center of one of the bubbles - visible slightly below and to the right of the center of the above photograph.
Aurora Over Circle, Alaska
Aurora can make spectacular sights. This particular aurora was photographed hovering over the town of Circle, Alaska. Although Aurora might first appear to be moonlit clouds, they only add light to the sky, and hence can not block background stars from view.
Are any volcanoes on Io currently erupting? To help answer this, scientists instructed the robot spacecraft Galileo to take hourly pictures of this moon of Jupiter prior to its most recent encounter. The most obvious changes in Io are due to the changing amount of sunlight reflected from the moon to the spacecraft.
The Earth glows in many kinds of light, including the energetic X-ray band. Actually, the Earth itself does not glow - only aurora produced high in the Earth's atmosphere. Above is the first picture of the Earth in X-rays, taken in March with the orbiting Polar satellite. Bright X-ray emission is shown in red.