We are happy to announce the availability of full disk Yohkoh Soft X-ray Telescope (SXT) images on helioviewer.org. SXT images x-rays from the Sun, and therefore looked at some of the hottest plasmas on the Sun. These data are important in trying to understand solar flares and the heating of the Sun’s corona.
Yohkoh (“Sunshine”) was launched in August 30, 1991, from the Kagoshima Space Center (Uchinoura) in Japan, and was a project of the Japanese Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS). The scientific objective was to observe the energetic phenomena taking place on the Sun, specifically solar flares in x-ray and gamma-ray emissions.
Yohkoh carried four instruments to detect energetic emissions from the Sun: the Soft X-Ray Telescope (SXT), the Hard X-Ray Telescope (HXT), the Bragg Crystal Spectrometer (BCS) and the Wide Band Spectrometer (WBS). A team from the United States collaborated on SXT, and teams from the United States and the United Kingdom collaborated on BCS.
SXT imaged X-rays in the 0.25 – 4.0 keV range. SXT used thin metallic filters to acquire images in restricted portions of the energy range. We are making images from the thin aluminium filter (thin-Al), and the aluminium-magnesium-manganese filter (AlMgMn) available. White-light images are also available up until November 1992. An example thin-aluminium image is shown below.
SXT could resolve features down to 2.5 arc seconds in size. Information about the temperature and density of the plasma emitting the observed x-rays was obtained by comparing images acquired with the different filters. Flare images could be obtained every 2 seconds. Smaller images with a single filter could be obtained as frequently as once every 0.5 seconds.
Yohkoh ceased operations on December 14, 2001. The SXT images we are making available cover portions of Solar Cycles 22 and 23 (we are currently somewhere close to the maximum of Solar Cyce 24). This historical data allows us to compare current solar behavior to previous solar behavior. Such studies allow us to better understand how the Sun operates on timescales of decades and longer.
Yohkoh SXT images are the first images of soft X-ray data available on helioviewer.org. We hope you enjoy examining this different view of the Sun on helioviewer.org.
Maintenance operations on the Helioviewer server are now complete, ahead of schedule. All Helioviewer services should be up and running as normal. We thank you for your patience in the last three days while our maintenance operations were ongoing. Please contact us if you notice a departure from normal services.
Today’s announced maintenance has been postponed until Friday 1st February. Helioviewer services will be brought down around 1600-1700 UT and will be brought back up no later than 2200 UT. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
All Helioviewer services (helioviewer.org, JHelioviewer and the embed functionality) will be temporarily suspended today (30 January 2013) to allow for maintenance of our server. We anticipate that services will be suspended at around or before 1700 UT and will resume again at around 2230 UT at the latest (could be much earlier). We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
From today’s SDO blog entry:
Today, starting at 1315 UTC (8:15 am ET), SDO will execute the EVE Field of View maneuver followed by the HMI/AIA Flatfield at 1630 UTC (11:30 am ET). During these maneuvers the science data will be interrupted. These maneuvers and last weeks’ Delta-H thruster firing were flipped in the schedule published earlier.
Instruments can degrade in the harsh environment of space, and so it is important to calibrate at regular intervals to make sure that we have the best data available at all times. SDO therefore occasionally makes special maneuvers that enable the measurements to be made that can be used to help calibrate the instruments onboard. Whilst these maneuvers are going on, some of the AIA and SDO images may look unusual.
SDO has three instruments onboard: AIA, HMI and the Extreme Ultraviolet Experiment, EVE. The EVE instrument is designed to measure the solar extreme ultraviolet (EUV) irradiance. The EUV radiation includes the 0.1-105 nm range, which provides the majority of the energy for heating Earth’s thermosphere and creating Earth’s ionosphere (charged plasma). The majority of EVE data are time-series of measurements of the spectral content of solar extreme ultraviolet irradiance, although some low spatial resolution x-ray images are also taken by the EVE Solar Aspect Monitor (SAM) instrument (see the example below). EVE gives us lots of information on the spectral content of the Sun’s radiation changes with time, which is very important for understanding the Earth-Sun connection.
As the movie progresses, you see a small eruption take place. As the eruption starts, you can clearly see the southern base of the loop displace. The loop appears to be released in some way, which shakes the whole loop along its entire length. This event is a great example of a transverse coronal loop oscillation. These were first observed by the Transition Region and Coronal Explorer (TRACE) in 1998. Since these initial observations, many more examples have been observed, by both TRACE and AIA. The mechanism of the excitation of these waves remains hidden, but it can be connected with a blast wave generated in a flare epicentre. For scale, the Earth is roughly the same size as the Helioviewer logo in the bottom right hand corner of the movie.
although it is much more difficult to see in the AIA 193 Angstrom channel compared to the AIA 171 Angstrom channedl(the dark wavy material you see are motions in a prominence, not the same as the coronal loop oscillation).
Observations of coronal loop oscillations, coupled with a theoretical understanding of how these oscillations behave in the coronal plasma has lead to a new field of study called coronal seismology. Coronal seismology is analogous to seismology on Earth. Seismology is the study of earthquakes and the propagation of waves arising from earthquakes, and can be used to infer properties of the structure of the Earth. Similarly, coronal seismology is used to measure properties of the Sun’s coronal plasma. Using coronal seismology, we can derive the density and magnetic field of the coronal plasma, measurements that are difficult make in other ways.
A total solar eclipse will be visible in the Southern Hemisphere on November 13.
Eclipse first contact begins at approximately 20:36 UT on November 13 and continues until approximately 23:48 UT on November 13. Live streaming of the eclipse is available at http://www.ustream.tv/cairnseclipse2012. Please go to
for many more details concerning this eclipse. An interactive map is available here.
Hurricane Sandy is currently approaching the East Coast of the United States. Winds from the hurricane are expected to cause widespread power outages in the next 48 hours (Oct 29-30). Since an unplanned power outage to a server can cause severe damage, we are taking the precautionary measure of shutting down the Helioviewer server. The server will shut down in the next hour. We expect to be back online by Wednesday 31st October EST at the latest, contingent on the weather and the availability of power. We apologize for the inconvenience this will cause.
Helioviewer.org and JHelioviewer are both back online after last week’s outage.
The downtime was caused by a problem encountered while expanding our storage capacity, which has since been fixed.
We are currently in the process of restoring images from some earlier years and as a result certain images may not be accessible over the next couple days.
We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
You may have noticed that we currently do not have any images available, even although the website is up and running. This is because we are experiencing some technical difficulties upgrading our image capacity. We are diagnosing the problem at present, and we will make images available as soon as we possibly can. We apologize for the interruption to our services.
All Helioviewer Project services will be brought down beginning at approximately 21:00 UT on 25th September 2012. This is a planned outage, and is required to perform necessary maintenance. Helioviewer.org and the JHelioviewer server at the Goddard Spaceflight Center will be unavailable. Helioviewer Project images used by third party applications will also be unavailable. We expect to return to normal service at approximateky 13:00 UT on 26th September 2012. We apologize for this necessary but brief interruption in our services.
ESA Summer of Code in Space 2012 (SOCIS) is a program run by the European Space Agency. It offers student developers stipends to write code for various space-related open source software projects. Through SOCIS, students will be paired with mentors from participating project teams, thus gaining exposure to real-world software development. The program is inspired by (but not affiliated or related in any way to) Google’s Summer of Code initiative.
YouTube and Helioviewer.org user otraLoly shared this short video of the return of Comet 96P/Machholz to the LASCO-C3 field of view. Thanks for sharing your video! More images of the comet will be available soon on Helioviewer.org.
Comet 96P/Machholz has an orbital period of about 5.2 years, which means it has been seen before in LASCO observations. Here is an example image from 2007
and five years before that in 2002,
The dates for the entry of Comet 96P/Machholz were obtained from the transit page of the LASCO instrument. It is projected to be visible in the LASCO C3 field of view from July 12 – 17, and it may also be visible in the images from the STEREO A/B coronagraphs.
SDO AIA and HMI images are currently lagging behing real time by about 18 – 22 hours. This is due to some necessary hardware upgrades in the processing pipeline that have interrupted the flow of images. The availability of LASCO, EIT, COR1, COR2, EUVI and SWAP images is unaffected by these hardware upgrades. We expect that the lag in SDO AIA and HMI images compared to real time will be caught up in the next few hours. We apologize for the interruption in availability of near real time AIA and HMI images.
Sometimes, instruments that are not specifically designed to observe the Sun can see something from the Sun. This was the case with Fermi, a gamma ray telescope operated by NASA. Its primary mission is to study the most energetic features and events in the Universe, such as supermassive black holes and the merging of neutron stars. Sometimes, however, the Sun makes an appearance in Fermi data. The following GOES X-class flare on March 7th, 2012
was an intense source of gamma-rays. SDO-AIA is not designed to observe gamma-rays. However, Fermi saw the gamma rays from this event. For a great explanation of what Fermi saw from the Sun, check out the following video.