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10 incredible images of the sun

By: Katherine Butler on May 2, 2011, 11:38 a.m.
fiery surface of the sun


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From the sun

This image was taken by Hinode, a collaborative mission between the space agencies of Japan, the United States, Europe and the United Kingdom. As NASA reports, this "reveals the filamentary nature of the plasma connecting regions of different magnetic polarity." The sun is thought to consist of plasma, which is "basically a gas whose temperature has been raised to such a high level that it becomes sensitive to magnetism." The sun is believed to be made mostly of hydrogen atoms; helium is the second most plentiful atom. Specifically, "for every 1 million atoms of hydrogen in the entire sun, there are 98,000 atoms of helium, 850 of oxygen, 360 of carbon, 120 of neon, 110 of nitrogen, 40 of magnesium, 35 of iron, and 35 of silicon," according to NASA.