Part 3: Properties of Solar Features

In this section, you will examine the size of solarаprominencesаand determine the temperature of a sunspot using theаStephan-Boltzmannаlaw.а

You are given an H-Alpha image of the Sun containing a sunspot and a solarаprominenceа The images are located in the shared drive (аLabimage -> Solar)аon the desktop of the lab computers. Use the images of the Sun to answer the questions below.


TheаStephan-Boltzmannаlaw relates the amount of light given off by an object to its temperature. аThe equation for this law is:

L = AσT4

Where L is the luminosity, A is the area of the region,аσ is the StephanаBoltzmannаconstant, and T is the temperatures of the region.

If we are simply comparing the temperature of two regions using the same image, we can simply the expression by taking the ratio:

Bspot/Bsun = (Tspot/Tsun)4

Assuming that we use the area and brightness of a single pixel.


Load the H-alpha image of the Sun into MaxIm DL. Open the screen stretch tool and change the contrast on the image. You will have to change theаcontrastаto highlight different features on the sun. Think about what features you want to examine and change the contrast accordingly.а

1. Measure the pixel height of a solar prominence as well as the pixel radius of the Sun. аDivide these numbers to obtain the ratio, or the height of the prominence in units of solar radii.

2. Look up the radius of the sun, and convert the height of the prominence from units of solar radii to km. аCompare this to the size of Earth.

3. Using the provided image, determine the minimum pixel brightness of the observed sunspot as well as the average pixel brightness of the solar surface near the sunspot. аYou can then plug this into the equation above to find the ratio of temperatures between the solar surface and the sunspot (Tspot/Tsun).

4. Look up the average temperature of the surface of the sun. аUse this and the ratio from exercise three to determine the temperature of the sunspot.

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