Pumpkin Sun Picture Captures Our Star Looking Like a Jack-o’-lantern

It’s Nerdoween time again, hobgoblins and ghouls, and to celebrate the spirit of the season, NASA has reshared one of its timeless pictures: It’s the “Pumpkin Sun” photo taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft in 2014, which makes our fiery fusion reactor in the sky look like a blazing jack-o’-lantern. The eyes, nose, and wicked mouth are all there upon the Sun’s countenance of plasma, and it even looks like it has little, flaming ears.

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft took a picture of the Sun in 2014 that makes it look like a jack-o'-lantern

The space agency tweeted  the seasonally appropriate Sun picture, noting that it’s an ultraviolet image that shows the “active regions of our home star.” In a post that offers high-res downloads of the picture, NASA notes the active regions that make up the facial components of the Sun-o’-lantern are brighter than the rest of the Sun’s surface because they’re emitting more light and energy thanks to “an intense and complex set of magnetic fields hovering in the sun’s atmosphere….”

A NASA video explaining how the Sun’s magnetic fields create the kinds of hot spots that make up the Pumpkin Sun’s face. 

Note that the Pumpkin Sun picture has been colorized in gold and yellow to help emphasize the Halloween vibes—we can’t see ultraviolet light with our limited people peepers, so the image has to be colorized somehow so we can see it. (And yes, we’re aware that some folks with Aphakia claim to be able to see ultraviolet light, but we’re talking about Nerdoween here so let’s not dwell on that.)

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft took a picture of the Sun in 2014 that makes it look like a jack-o'-lantern

Another picture of the Pumpkin Sun colorized with a different set of wavelengths of light. 

On top of resharing the Pumpkin Sun picture, NASA also dropped two new Halloween-themed exoplanet posters, including a “Zombie Worlds” poster and a “Rains of Terror” poster, which can both be downloaded as high-res images here. The temporarily spookified space agency also released a movie “trailer” dubbed Galaxy of Horrors, which “reveals the sinister science behind real worlds we’ve discovered in our galaxy.”

What do you think of all of this Halloween goodness released by NASA? Do you want a picture of the Pumpkin Sun or one of those exoplanet posters permanently hung up in your home? Both frighten and awe us with your dark n’ starry thoughts in the comments!

Images: NASA