Super High-Resolution Photo of the Sun Reveals It Looks Like ... Corn


Studying the Sun isn't as simple as viewing it through a regular telescope. To capture our home star's surface in extreme detail, the National Solar Observatory designed a telescope that can account for the distortion of the Earth's atmosphere while withstanding extreme heat. Now, MIT Technology Review reports that the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope has snapped the highest-resolution photo of the Sun yet—and it looks like corn.

Never before has the Sun been captured in greater detail than in the image above. Rather than the uniform yellow disk we see from Earth, the photograph shows a star with a crackled surface of smushed-together cells resembling the contents of a Cracker Jack bag. Those kernel-shaped blobs are actually plasma bubbles roiling on the Sun's surface, and each one is roughly the size of Texas.

Some clever engineering was used to get this unprecedented look of the star that powers our solar system. Located in Maui, Hawaii, the National Science Foundation's National Solar Observatory outfitted the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope with a 13-foot mirror. The mirror is constantly adjusting itself, changing its shape 2000 times per second to cancel out the distortions of the Earth's atmosphere and get a clear view of the Sun. Pointing a massive mirror at the Sun also generates a dangerous amount of heat. To stop the telescope from melting, it's cooled by a system consisting of a swimming pool's worth of ice and coolant distributed by 7.5 miles of piping.

The high-defintion picture of the Sun isn't just pretty to look at; it can also teach scientists about phenomena that affect our home planet. "NSF’s Inouye Solar Telescope will be able to map the magnetic fields within the Sun’s corona, where solar eruptions occur that can impact life on Earth," France Córdova, director of the National Science Foundation, said in a news release. "This telescope will improve our understanding of what drives space weather and ultimately help forecasters better predict solar storms.”

By getting an intimate view of the Sun, astronomers hope to finally unravel some of its mysteries, like why its outer atmosphere, or corona, is so much hotter than its surface, and which forces dictate its magnetic seasons. This image is just a preview—the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope is still being built, and formal observations don't begin until July. The plan is to use the telescope to capture at least four solar cycles, or 44 years of data.

[h/t MIT Technology Review]

Amazon's Under-the-Radar Coupon Page Features Deals on Home Goods, Electronics, and Groceries

Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Now that Prime Day is over, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday still a few weeks away, online deals may seem harder to come by. And while it can be a hassle to scour the internet for promo codes, buy-one-get-one deals, and flash sales, Amazon actually has an extensive coupon page you might not know about that features deals to look through every day.

As pointed out by People, the coupon page breaks deals down by categories, like electronics, home & kitchen, and groceries (the coupons even work with SNAP benefits). Since most of the deals revolve around the essentials, it's easy to stock up on items like Cottonelle toilet paper, Tide Pods, Cascade dishwasher detergent, and a 50 pack of surgical masks whenever you're running low.

But the low prices don't just stop at necessities. If you’re looking for the best deal on headphones, all you have to do is go to the electronics coupon page and it will bring up a deal on these COWIN E7 PRO noise-canceling headphones, which are now $80, thanks to a $10 coupon you could have missed.

Alternatively, if you are looking for deals on specific brands, you can search for their coupons from the page. So if you've had your eye on the Homall S-Racer gaming chair, you’ll find there's currently a coupon that saves you 5 percent, thanks to a simple search.

To discover all the deals you have been missing out on, head over to the Amazon Coupons page.

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Uranus Reaches Opposition on Halloween in 2020

Christine Schmitt, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Christine Schmitt, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Uranus is roughly 1.75 billion miles away from Earth, which makes it difficult to spot without a telescope most nights. But on Saturday, October 31, the seventh planet from the sun will be worth looking for. Uranus reaches opposition that night, making it appear extra bright in the night sky.

What Is Uranus at Opposition?

An opposition occurs when the Earth falls perfectly between another planet and the sun. When this happens, the sun's light appears to fully illuminate the planet's surface, boosting its brightness level to the maximum.

Uranus reaches opposition on October 31 in 2020. During this event, Uranus will hit a limiting magnitude of 5.86, which is about the minimum brightness for what's visible with the naked eye.

How to Look for Uranus at Opposition

Spotting Uranus at opposition will be slightly more difficult in 2020 than in years past. The phenomenon coincides with a full moon that will make dimmer stars and planets—including Uranus—harder to see in the night sky. The planet sits in the constellation Aries, which regrettably appears close to the moon for most of the night.

Uranus should appear as a small, blue-green disc when using a telescope. Even if you have trouble spotting the seventh planet, it will still be worth checking out the night sky on October 31: Halloween this year coincides with a rare blue moon.