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Hinode instruments & science


Image courtesy of JAXA


Hinode instruments


The Sun emits electromagnetic radiation over a wide range of wavelegths. Hinode has three state-of-the-art instruments that capture light from different parts of the spectrum, as follows:


Hinode instruments


1. A Solar Optical Telescope (SOT) observes the solar surface and magnetic field.
2. An Extreme-ultraviolet Imaging Spectrometer (EIS) led by the UK.
3. An X-Ray Telescope (XRT).

These three instruments work together as a space observatory providing highly accurate, simultaneous measurements of magnetic fields, electrical currents and plasma motion.


Solar Optical Telescope (SOT)


The Solar Optical Telescope on board Hinode is the largest aperture, most advanced solar telescope flown in space. Its aperture is 50 cm and the angular resolution achieved is 0.25", which represents 175 km on the Sun. This provides very detailed images and movies of the solar surface.


SOT not only looks at the Sun in visible light to produce images of the photosphere, the surface of the Sun, but can also measure magnetic fields. This is done by using magnetically sensitive wavelengths of light.


Hinode SOT observations of a sunspot


Hinode SOT sunspot


Here is a spectactular image from SOT of a sunspot as seen in emission from the chromosphere.


This movie was taken by SOT and shows the evolution of a sunspot. The left panel shows changes in the magnetic field (negative field shown in black and positive field in white). The right hand panel reveals activity in the chromosphere. The movie is shown here courtesy of the Solar-B Project/NAOJ.


To find out more about sunspots see the Suntrek section called Sunspots

  [Movie file 1mb or more - High quality]


Hinode SOT observations of a prominence


SOT prominence


This image shows a prominence on the limb of the Sun in very fine detail. For more information about prominences, see the Suntrek section called prominences are "cool"


SOT images reveal the dynamic nature of a prominence at the limb. A detailed analysis of the high-resolution images reveal waving motion characteristic of Alfvén waves. The discovery of these waves in the solar atmosphere is very important as their presence could explain why the corona is so hot.


To find out more about solar waves see the Suntrek section called solar waves

  [Movie file 1mb or more - High quality]


Extreme-ultraviolet Imaging Spectrometer (EIS)


EIS simultaneously captures solar images in different wavebands in the extreme ultraviolet region of the spectrum.


The data are read out from two CCDs (one for short wavelengths and one for long wavelengths) and recorded in a data cube. This cube contains information about the spatial location on the Sun, the emission at different wavelengths and the shape of each spectral line.


The amount of information captured by EIS make it an extremely powerful instrument. Using the information carried in the spectral lines, EIS can track the properties of the plasma (flows, density and temperature).


Outflows at the edge of Active Regions


Hinode EIS active region  

The images show an active region observed by Hinode on 23rd August, 2007. The box on the top image, from Hinode’s X-Ray Telescope, highlights an area next to an active region that is dark and not easy to see.


However, in the bottom image, taken with the Extreme-ultraviolet Imaging Spectrometer, strong outflows of plasma are observed in the same area (blue signifies an upward outflow and red is a downflow).


The velocity of the outflow here was measured to be 140 km/s. This type of near-continuous flow may be a source of the slow solar wind.


To find out more about the source of the slow solar wind see the Suntrek section called the fast and slow solar winds


X-Ray Telescope (XRT)


XRT provides images of the hottest part of the corona at temperatures between 1 million and 10 million K. Below is a full-disk image captured by XRT showing the diverse nature of the corona.


Full-disk XRT image which shows the variation in the coronal structure at different latitudes.


The Full-disk XRT image above shows the variation in the coronal structure at different latitudes. Bright emission is characteristic of closed loop structures whereas the darker features are usually where the coronal loops are long and reach out into the interplanetary medium.


This Hinode XRT movie shows activity of the solar corona over 12 days. An active region goes behind the Sun while another one appears.


To find out more about solar active regions see the Suntrek section called loops - the tangled Sun

  [Movie file 1mb or more - High quality]






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Solar Opitcal Telescope (SOT) X-Ray Telescope (XRT) Extreme Ultra-violet Imaging Spectrometer (EIS)