New eye on the sun.
The recently launched Hinode spacecraft made this x-ray portrait of several-million-degree gas in the sun's outer atmosphere on Oct. 28. The test image reveals that features known as X-ray bright points (two exam pies are in box) are simple magnetic loops entraining hot gas. Astronomers will monitor the bright points to find out why the sun's atmosphere, or corona, is so much hotter than its interior. In addition to an X-ray telescope, Hinode carries a visible-light telescope to study the sun's surface and a magnetograph to monitor magnetic fields associated with sunspots. The craft also has an extreme-ultraviolet imaging spectrometer to track hot gas in the corona (SN: 8/19/06, p. 120). After further testing, Hinode, which means sunrise in Japanese, will begin its 3-year mission in December.