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solar loop structures

A TANGLED SKEIN  Splendid loops in the corona protrude from the sun’s surface, seen in this 2014 ultraviolet image from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. They are anchored in the sun’s messy magnetic field — so it’s a mystery how they stay so smooth.

sun illustration

SIGNS OF LINES  The sun’s magnetic field is connected to one in the corona, which is much weaker and therefore harder to observe. Together, they form a twisted mess, illustrated here as white lines (based partly on a model) over a 2016 image of the sun from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.

example of gravitational lensing

TRICK OF THE LIGHT  Einstein showed that spacetime warps around massive bodies and makes light take different paths, as shown in this stellar smile in which a red galaxy distorts the light from a more distant blue galaxy.

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