Jason Guenzel

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Photography Science

An Astounding Composite of 90,000 Images Unveils the Sun’s Hidden Atmosphere

March 27, 2023

Grace Ebert

A composite image of the sun

All images © Andrew McCarthy and Jason Guenzel, shared with permission

Astrophotographers Andrew McCarthy (previously) and Jason Guenzel recently teamed up to create a staggering look at the sun that showcases the textured, fiery details of its atmosphere. Comprised of approximately 90,000 individual images, “Fusion of Helios” showcases the usually invisible solar corona, the outermost layer that tends to be hidden by the sun’s powerful glare. “To get a scientifically plausible look at it, we used NASA’s SOHO data as a reference to geometrically transform Jason’s 2017 eclipse photo to match the features,” McCarthy shares. “The result is a blend of science and art, and my favorite piece of work I’ve been a part of.”

Jets of plasma known as spicules appear like wispy fibers cloaking the sun’s surface, while a tall column shoots from the upper right. This solar eruption, which McCarthy likens to a tornado, stretches the same height as 14 planet Earths as it rapidly swirls and sheds balls of plasma the size of the moon.

Check out a video of the twister-like phenomenon on Instagram, and find prints of “Fusion of Helios” in both McCarthy’s and Guenzel’s shops. (via Kottke)


A detail composite image of the sun

A detail composite image of the sun

A detail composite image of the sun