For the first time NASA has taken 3D images of the sun, using its Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory (STEREO) satellites.
The twin satellites, launched in 2006, were positioned on opposite sides of the sun to generate the images. Unlike the moon, which has a permanent far side, the sun rotates once about every 24.5 days. This means the whole surface is visible from earth over the course of a month, but if there is an event on the far side we would not become aware of this until at least another week later, if at all.
The STEREO satellites travelled 290 million miles to give scientists this unique view of the solar surface. From now on, solar structures and phenomena will be visible to scientists in three dimensions. This will aid their understanding of the star’s physics, and improve their ability to predict space weather.