NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured an image of the sun ‘smiling’

The dark spots are known as coronal holes.


It’s been a busy week for NASA in the days leading up to Halloween. In the spirit of the season, the agency recently released a new image of the Eagle Nebula captured by the James Webb Space Telescope where the Pillars of Creation look like a ghostly hand. By coincidence, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory managed to capture a similarly spooky image of the sun.

On Wednesday, the agency shared a capture of the sun “smiling.” As The Guardian points out, more than a few Twitter users were quick to point out how the star looks like a carved pumpkin in NASA’s image. There’s a bit of interesting science behind the resemblance. “Seen in ultraviolet light, these dark patches on the sun are known as coronal holes and are regions where fast solar wind gushes out into space,” according to NASA. The sun is constantly sending out solar winds. At times, these geomagnetic storms have been known to knock power out here on Earth, as was the case in part of Canada in 1989.

This isn’t the first time the Solar Dynamics Observatory has captured an interesting image of the sun. In 2016, NASA released an animation of the sun doing a somersault. The capture was the result of a seven-hour maneuver the SDO completes once a year to take an accurate measure of the star’s edge.