Facebook post does show real images of the sun

20 May 2022
What was claimed

Images show incredibly detailed photographs of the sun.

Our verdict

These appear to be real images of the sun taken by an astrophotographer, although they may have been significantly processed with software.

A Facebook post featuring detailed images of the sun has been the subject of some scepticism, with many comments on the post claiming that the images are not real photographs, calling them “CGI” and “artwork”.

In actual fact, the images do appear to be genuine photographs of the sun, which have been captured using a complex process in order to show the star in detail.

This pair of images appear to have been taken by a photographer named Arturo Buenrostro. He has not responded to Full Fact’s request for comment, but in an interview with the astronomy imaging camera company ZWO about the photos he said: “I love solar photography, and every day and at every moment it gives us a totally different landscape.

“I usually pay attention to when it is showing outstanding things, so take out my equipment and capture them, and this time it happened, I saw that there was a lot of solar activity. Then I began to capture. Sometimes it lasted more than an hour because the seeing was not good. But it is important to keep insisting until the objective is achieved.”

Detailed shots of the sun are created using heavily processed images

Reuters has previously written about a similar image of the sun which was falsely claimed to have been taken by NASA. In that case, the photographer behind the shot described it as “a processed image using photos collected through my backyard solar telescope” that involved “walking the thin line between science and art ... perhaps blurring it a bit.” 

The process of creating this kind of detailed solar photography has also been explained in Wired, with astrophotographer Alan Friedman explaining that it involves sophisticated technology including specialist cameras, telescopes, light filters and image processing software.

Another astrophotographer, Andrew McCarthy, has said that he creates his images by layering thousands of separate frames on top of each other. He told Hyperallergic: “By modifying my telescope to purge the heat created by the sun while allowing a very small sliver of the visible light spectrum through, I can resolve details on the solar chromosphere, a feat otherwise impossible.

“By taking thousands of pictures ultra-magnified of the surface, I can also eliminate the distortion effects from the atmosphere.”

Image courtesy of no-longer-here.

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