12th April 2012, 19:50
SDO and STEREO Spot Something New On the Sun
One day in the fall of 2011, Neil Sheeley, a solar scientist at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., did what he always does ? look through the daily images of the sun from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO).
But on this day he saw something he'd never noticed before: a pattern of cells with bright centers and dark boundaries occurring in the sun's atmosphere, the corona. These cells looked somewhat like a cell pattern that occurs on the sun's surface -- similar to the bubbles that rise to the top of boiling water -- but it was a surprise to find this pattern higher up in the corona, which is normally dominated by bright loops and dark coronal holes.