Anyone who has ever sat back and found imaginary animals in the clouds will enjoy this view of the Sun. A visitor to the website of the SOHO spacecraft found Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in naturally dark regions of the solar surface.
In the image at right, SOHO scientists have drawn an outline of the shape for anyone who might have trouble finding it.
Peter Kuklok of Germany found the shape. SOHO scientists, in releasing it to the public this week, said "we could not resist sharing it with everyone else."
The image is green because SOHO records electrogmagnetic radiation at various wavelengths. This view is of extreme ultraviolet light. The dark region in question is a substantial coronal hole, a part of the Sun where solar particles are following open magnetic field lines out into space. Like sunspots, coronal holes develop and change over time.
Coronal holes can send enough particles into space to generate minor geomagnetic disturbances at Earth, scientists say.
If it really is Rudolph, or his shadow, he must be on an early training flight. The image was taken Dec. 6.