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Ray of sunshine

NASA releases image of ‘smiling’ Sun

Dark patches called coronal holes could signify solar storm heading toward Earth; image prompts comparisons to a Halloween pumpkin

An image of the sun with coronal holes forming a smiley face. (NASA)
An image of the sun with coronal holes forming a smiley face. (NASA)

NASA has released a photo which seems to show the Sun “smiling” due to a pattern of dark patches called coronal holes.

“Today, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory caught the Sun ‘smiling,'” the space agency tweeted Wednesday.

“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,” the tweet read.

The Solar Dynamics Observatory is a program designed to increase understanding of the Sun’s impact on Earth.

The mission was launched in 2010 and according to NASA is a “sun-pointing semi-autonomous spacecraft that will allow nearly continuous observations of the Sun with a continuous science data downlink rate.”

Twitter users were quick to compare the image of the Sun to a Halloween pumpkin, the Marshmallow Man from the Ghostbusters movie, and a cookie.

According to Space.com, the coronal holes are in fact no laughing matter as they could mean a solar storm is heading toward Earth.

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