How Do We Study The Sun?


Scientists study the Sun number in a number of ways including ground based telescopes and satellites to obtain as much information as possible.

The atmosphere of the Sun varies in temperature so a whole range of wavelengths are needed to make complete observations. Click here for a quick summary of the electromagnetic spectrum.

How do we study flares?

Flares release huge amounts of energy and heat the coronal plasma to many tens of millions of degrees. The energy released is seen through out the spectrum including X-rays, gamma-rays, UV and radio waves, so special instruments are required that are sensitive at these wavelengths. The YOHKOH satellite carried many instruments including the Soft X-ray Telescope (SXT). This instrument is capable of taking images of the solar corona in the temperature range 2-4 million degrees Kelvin.

How do we study coronal mass ejections?

Coronal mass ejections (CME) are detected in white light when the disc of the Sun is occulted by an instrument called a coronagraph. Most of the Sun's light is emitted from the photosphere and this needs to be blocked if the fainter corona is to be seen. The density enhancements of the CME are seen by the scattering of the photospheric light off the electrons in the corona by a process called Thomson scattering.