Move over, McDonald’s: The sun’s got its own golden arches, streaking across its fiery surface. A new video released today, captured by NASAs Solar Dynamics Laboratory in early April, gives us a close look at the dazzling solar parabolas looping across the sun’s blazing exterior.
Shooting out of the swirling surface like dozens of golden Gateway Arches, the glowing plumes are actually magnetic fields shooting out from the sun’s “active regions.” In these areas, the sun’s magnetic field is incredibly concentrated. When it erupts into soaring arches, it catches charged particles, which spiral along those magnetic field lines.
It’s actually the light from those particles that we’re seeing, although, because they emit light at extreme ultraviolet wavelengths, they aren’t usually visible to the naked human eye. They’ve been colorized here in vibrant gold for our own blissed-out enjoyment.
Videos like these are especially useful for studying how magnetic fields move across the sun and illuminating the mysteries of its active regions.
In December 2015, the SDO captured this video of the sun’s cascading magnetic arches, which leaped out of its surface after a dark solar filament grew unstable and collapsed. Here, the light emitted from particles traveling along its invisible leaping lines have been shaded in rich bronze: