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SOHO moves around the Sun in step with the Earth, by slowly orbiting around the First Lagrangian Point (L1), where the combined gravity of the Earth and Sun keep SOHO in an orbit locked to the Earth-Sun line. The L1 point is approximately 1.5 million kilometers away from Earth (about four times the distance of the Moon), in the direction of the Sun. There, SOHO enjoys an uninterrupted view of our daylight star. All previous solar observatories have orbited the Earth, from where their observations were periodically interrupted as our planet `eclipsed' the Sun.
Cosmic rays are very high energy particles which come from a variety of sources (e.g. solar flares, supernovae). They are of interest to lots of astronomers, but mostly just noise for us. We see lots of them in every image and occasionally, 3 or 4 of them hit the CCD in just the right places in consecutive images to fool us into believing there is a real object there. The cosmic rays can show up as points or as streaks.