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This glittering turquoise image reveals our sun in a dramatic and utterly unexpected way. Taken by the newly launched Nasa probe, the Solar Dynamics Observatory, the photograph shows superheated material swirling across the sun's surface in unprecedented detail.
At the top left of the image there is a solar prominence, a huge loop of plasma, that is being blasted into space. Scientists estimate its temperature at around 60,000 celsius. This is relatively cool, it transpires. The rest of the sun's surface depicted here, which has been given false colouring in blues and greens, is made up of plasma that is around one million degrees celsius.
Launched on 11 February on an Atlas rocket from Cape Canaveral, the Observatory is the most advanced spacecraft ever designed to study the sun and will operate for the next five years, leading to a new understanding of the role that the sun plays in earth's atmospheric chemistry and climate, say space scientists.