The Sun's Face Has Many Features

Five major solar features are highlighted in this composite of extreme ultraviolet and visible light images. (Courtesy NASA/SOHO)
  • Many times larger than magnetic loops, prominences majestically rise far above the Sunís surface.
  • Bright, explosions on the Sun - solar flares - spew high-energy electromagnetic waves (such as X- rays) into space.
  • Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are enormous solar eruptions that blast plasma into space.
  • Small, dark regions on the Sunís surface, called sunspots, contain strong magnetic fields.
  • Dark coronal holes are portals through which the fastest solar wind escapes from the Sun.


Sunspots are relatively dark patches on the Sunís bright surface. These regions of concentrated magnetic fields can last from several hours to several months. They appear as dark spots because theyíre cooler (4000įC) than the Sunís surrounding surface (6000įC). Sunspots tend to develop in groups, with some covering areas 20 times the diameter of Earth. This visible light image reveals many sunspots that appear as dark spots on its surface. (Courtesy NASA/SOHO) Close-up photo of a sunspot. Earth added to give size comparison. (Courtesy AURA/NOAO/National Solar Observatory at Sacramento Peak, NM)

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