Is this the clearest photograph of the Sun taken by NASA? Here’s the truth!

International Misleading

Photos of natural phenomenon are shared and received with great amazement on social media. These unbelievable photos often attract lot of engagements on social media. Sometimes images misattributed to global agencies/celebrities are shared widely as social media users deem them true. At Fact Crescendo, we have debunked such campaigns before and you can read one such example by clicking here.

A picture claimed to be an image of sun’s surface captured by NASA went viral on social media stream during the past few weeks. However, Factcrescendo Sri Lanka’s investigation revealed that the claims had erroneously credited to photograph to NASA, which in fact was an artistically edited image by an American photographer Jason Guenzel

Social Media Claims:

A number of Facebook users shared an image claimed to be of the surface of the sun as seen below along with the caption “The clearest picture of the Sun surface published by NASA”

Facebook Link | Archived Link

The Sinhala version of this post shared widely claiming the same in the caption “සූර්යයාගේ පැහැදිලිම පින්තූරය NASA ආයතනය මගින් මුදාහැරපු”. Similar posts can be seen in the screenshot of Facebook Search given below:

D:\AAA -Fact Checking\Completed\AAA-Publish\English\2021\0202-Sun Surace-Eng\screenshot-www.facebook.com-2021.02.20-12_17_59.png

Fact Check 

We did a reverse image search of the viral image, which led us to an online art market website called “Fine Art America”. 

Here we noticed a Michigan based photographer named Jason Guenzel had uploaded the viral image on January 16, 2021, along with the caption “Magnetic Sun: A stylized rendition of a solar close-up. This image highlights the turbulent magnetic field on the visible surface of our star” as seen below in his photo album titled “Solar System

Buy Art Online

Fine Art America | Archived Link

We did further investigation and found a tweet on Guenzel’s Twitter account on 13th January 2021 with the same image. He had clearly mentioned in the caption that the picture is a “heavily software-processed image of the solar chromosphere reveals the complex nature of the magnetic field within our star

Twitter link | Archived Link

We found a post on Guenzel’s Facebook page with a detail explanation about the image as seen below, which gives details about the telescope he had used to capture the image as “Telescope Info: Explore Scientific AR152, Daystar Quark Chromosphere, ASI174MM-Cool Celestron AVX, December 10, 2020, 1250/5000 stacked

Facebook link | Archived Link   Instagram

Below is part of an explanation given by Jason on another similar image on his Instagram account as seen here

The art of solar photography…

Is it real? Does it look like that? In some ways, no. In some ways, yes.

I went outside, set up a solar telescope, attached a camera, collected 5000 short exposure pictures at 128 frames per second, shot a calibration flat video, graded the images, rejected all but the highest quality 25%, stacked the resulting frames, adjusted the image for contrast, applied processes that enhance image features, colorized using those features, then had the sudden urge to see what it looked like book-matched…”

We also noticed a comment by Jason to a misleading Tweet, which had used his image, titled “The clearest picture of the sun from NASA”. Guenzel commented, “Thanks for the share. I am the original content creator. This is a processed image using photos collected through my backyard solar telescope!” as seen here

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Realizing that this image is being shared widely misattributing it to NASA; Jason had clarified about this image in the comments section as seen below.

We searched NASA photo journal, NASA’s IRIS Image Gallery and their official social media channels and official website, yet could not find this particular picture, or any information related to the viral photo.

Claims related to this image went viral all around the world and a number of Fact Checkers had previously debunked the claim. One such fact check can be seen by clicking here. NASA’s heliophysics communications lead Karen C. Fox has also confirmed that the photo is not a NASA image and that the image that has been digitally enhanced to create an attractive artistic image. 

Fact Check: 3-D Visualization of Australian Bushfires shared as a photo taken By A NASA Satellite

Conclusion:

From our investigation, we can confirm that the viral picture of the sun surface was a creative image made by using images clicked through a camera attached to a solar telescope. The photographer Jason Guenzel later enhanced the photo artificially. 

This photograph not related to NASA.

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Title:Is this the clearest photograph of the Sun taken by NASA? Here’s the truth!

Fact Check By: Nelson Mani 

Result: Misleading

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