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New Sun Science Stamps from the Postal Service

New Sun Science Stamps from the Postal Service

New Sun Science Stamps from the U.S. Postal Service

To start off the summer, the U.S. Postal Service issued a set of stamps showcasing views of the Sun from our Solar Dynamics Observatory!

New Sun Science Stamps from the Postal Service

Since its launch in 2010, the Solar Dynamics Observatory (or SDO) has kept up a near-constant watch on the Sun from its vantage point in orbit around Earth. SDO watches the Sun in more than 10 different types of light, including some that are absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere so can only be seen from space. These different types of light allow scientists to study different parts of the Sun – from its surface to its atmosphere – and better understand the solar activity that can affect our technology on Earth and in space.

New Sun Science Stamps from the Postal Service

The new set of stamps features 10 images from SDO. Most of these images are in extreme ultraviolet light, which is invisible to human eyes.

Let’s explore the science behind some of the stamps!

Coronal hole (May 2016)

New Sun Science Stamps from the Postal Service

The dark area capping the northern polar region of the Sun is a coronal hole, a magnetically open area on the Sun from which high-speed solar wind escapes into space. Such high-speed solar wind streams can spark magnificent auroral displays on Earth when they collide with our planet’s magnetic field.

Solar flare (August 2011)

New Sun Science Stamps from the Postal Service

The bright flash on the Sun’s upper right is a powerful solar flare. Solar flares are bursts of light and energy that can disturb the part of Earth’s atmosphere where GPS and radio signals travel.

Active Sun (October 2014)

New Sun Science Stamps from the Postal Service

This view highlights the many active regions dotting the Sun’s surface. Active regions are areas of intense and complex magnetic fields on the Sun – linked to sunspots – that are prone to erupting with solar flares or explosions of material called coronal mass ejections.

Plasma blast (August 2012)

New Sun Science Stamps from the Postal Service

These images show a burst of material from the Sun, called a coronal mass ejection. These eruptions of magnetized solar material can create space weather effects on Earth when they collide with our planet’s magnetosphere, or magnetic environment – including aurora, satellite disruptions, and, when extreme, even power outages.

Coronal loops (July 2012)

New Sun Science Stamps from the Postal Service

These images show evolving coronal loops across the limb and disk of the Sun. Just days after these images were taken, the Sun unleashed a powerful solar flare.

Coronal loops are often found over sunspots and active regions, which are areas of intense and complex magnetic fields on the Sun.

Sunspots (October 2014)

New Sun Science Stamps from the Postal Service

This view in visible light – the type of light we can see – shows a cluster of sunspots near the center of the Sun. Sunspots appear dark because they are relatively cool compared to surrounding material, a consequence of the way their extremely dense magnetic field prevents heated material from rising to the solar surface.

For more Sun science, follow NASA Sun on Twitter, on Facebook, or on the web.

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