Header image

Images of the Sun taken by the
Transition Region and Coronal Explorer

The TRACE images may be used without restrictions in publications of any kind. We appreciate an acknowledgement indicating that the Transition Region and Coronal Explorer, TRACE, is a mission of the Stanford-Lockheed Institute for Space Research, and part of the NASA Small Explorer program. More information on TRACE and other TRACE images can be found here.
Last TRACE image
On Monday, June 21, 2010, at 23:57 UT, the Transition Region and Coronal Explorer (TRACE) took its last science exposure after over twelve successful years on orbit. The image to the left shows the TRACE 171A exposure embedded in a nearly cotemporal SDO AIA 211/193/171 composite of the full Sun. The TRACE Small Explorer was a remarkably successful mission, with over 1000 scientific publications to date based directly or indirectly on its millions of images of the hot outermost atmosphere of the Sun. Designed for an 8-month prime mission, the instrument continued to function without significant flaws up to its last image. But its capabilities have been overtaken by the state-of-the art Atmospheric Imaging Assembly on the Solar Dynamics Observatory in all but the sharpness of its images. Hence, after a few months of joint observing to enable cross-calibration that allows SDO's AIA to build on a full solar cycle of coronal observations, it was time to part with TRACE. We thank NASA and the community for their lasting support. It has been a privilege to be associated with all of the scientists who contributed to TRACE's success; hopefully, the legacy that it leaves in the TRACE resident archive (accessible through trace.lmsal.com, as always) will continue to be a valuable asset in years to come.
Filament destabilization in AR11048
While TRACE was observing Active Region 11048 in its 195Å channel (sensitive mostly to plasma emission around 1.5 MK), it observed a filament destabilization just prior to 01 UT on 2010/02/18. The filament is seen to rise, but it does not break through the overlying field (in which case it would have resulted in a coronal mass ejection from the Sun). Instead, the field is seen to rise and unwind, and then settle in with the restraining field around it. The movie shows the entire event, some five times more extended that the diameter of the entire Earth, took only some 10 minutes for the field to deform, and less than an hour for the loops to settle back to a quiescent state. Courtesy Adam Kobelski (MSU).
AR11045 in 195Å
Just before and after a moderate C3.7 flare, observed by TRACE on 2010/02/10 around 15 UT in its 195Å channel, coronal loops could be seen to shift in a whirling motion. These were first most clearly at the leading, western side. After the flare, more such displacements were seen more towards the interior of the region. This movie (3MB, QT/H264) shows a 5 hour interval around the time of the flare and the loop motions, which are reminiscent of motions expected near separatrices in the magnetic field.
AR11039 in 71Å
This image of Active Region 11039 was taken by TRACE in its 171Å channel on 2009/12/31 at 07:03UT. It shows the moderately sized active region, one of the first sizable regions of the new sunspot cycle, surrounded by quiet Sun. The region was observed continuously from 2009/12/29 through 2010/01/08 when it had vanished entirely behind the disk. During this time, multiple eruptions punctuated the gradual evolution of the corona as the region began to decay and as it interacted with nearby smaller bipolar regions that emerged and decayed (particularly to its north). Image courtesy of Dawn Meyers (TRACE, at GSFC).
TRACE picture book

TRACE picture book

Download a pdf (15MB) TRACE picture book with a collection of the best and unusual pictures from the TRACE image collection shown in these web pages.
AR11034 and 11035 in 171Å
With the Sun's activity persistently low, 2009 was not a good year for active-region observations. But when tracking active region 11034, TRACE observed another region as it was emerging onto the solar surface. AR 11035 began to emerge on 2009/12/14, and TRACE followed its evolution, and its interactions with its neighbor AR 11034, from then on. This (2x2 binned; 36 MB QT) movie shows the evolution over five days, from 2009/12/12 12:49UT through 2009/12/17 16:54. the image (left) shows the two neighboring regions on 2009/12/17 at 13:16UT; adjacent dark regions suggest coronal holes with fields reaching into the heliosphere (consistent with our PFSS model).
TRACE targets

What TRACE observed: a visual target synopsis for the WL channel

Looking for observations of active-region disk crossings, filaments on the limb, quiet Sun, the north pole, or coronal holes with TRACE? We have multiple summaries of observations on line [links below], but we now add a visual summary of the entire mission (periodically updated to the present):

We have prepared a series of visual summaries of TRACE observations from the start of the mission to the present in the form of a series of movies. Each movie shows approximately 7 to 11 months of observations (depending on the frequency of WL observations), summarized in up to 24 frames per day (depending on the maximum number obtained each day), sampled uniformly from all available white-light (WL) images. The frames are shown on the position of the solar disk where TRACE was pointing at the time; they fade away with an e-folding time scale of approximately 2 days. The date and time of the observation are shown at the bottom of each frame. Each of the movies is approximately 85MB to 115MB in size, and plays in 2.4 minutes at 30 frames/sec.

Summary movies of TRACE WL observations.
Movie #Start dateEnd dateLink to movieUnusual observing programs include:
11998/05/011998/12/15WL(QT)One disk-crossing of a decaying sunspot group; a week-long coverage of a sunspot group including one large spot with light bridge.
21998/12/151999/08/24WL(QT)Disk crossing of small decaying sunspot group; eek-long tracking of large double sunspot group.
31999/08/242000/04/28WL(QT)Fair coverage of about 10d of three successive large sunspot groups; a week-long coverage of cluster of pores and small spots; two-day coverage of an emerging flux region with a pair of spot groups starting shortly after first emergence; two few-day coverages of very large sunspot groups across DC; week-long coverage of a small decaying sunspot.
42000/04/282001/04/05WL(QT)Two ~10-d disk crossings of substantial decaying sunspot groups, and four week-long coverages others; and one disk crossing of a fairly stable, large sunspot group.
52001/04/052002/12/08WL(QT)Week-long coverage of decaying AR; week-long coverage of two decaying sunspots in adjacent ARs; week-long coverage of an emerging flux region with substantial spot coverage from just before DC; few-day coverage of spots forming in previously existing region; two week-long coverages of large stable sunspot groups; week-long coverage of decaying old sunpot with satellites.
62002/12/082003/09/04WL(QT)~5d coverage of decaying sunspot group; week-long coverage of small spot decaying; week-long coverage of sunspot group with some spot formation; ~10d coverage of a large stable spot and of another with some flux emergence next to it; ~5d coverage of a complex stable spot group; ~10d coverage of a decaying, dissolving spot group; week-long coverage of decaying moderate spot group; ~10d coverage of stable large spot group; week-long coverage of stable spot cluster.
72003/09/042004/08/01WL(QT)Few-day coverage of a very small spot forming and weakening; ~10d coverage of complex spot group evolution; week-long coverage of spot group with spots fragmenting; ~5d coverage of cluster of small spots disappearing; 10d coverage of spot pair evolution, with one dissolving and the other with some fragmentation.
82004/08/012005/06/17WL(QT)~10d coverage of moderate spot and satellites decaying; week-long coverage of moderate spot evolving.
92005/06/172006/05/14WL(QT)~9d coverage of spot cluster consolidating and then decaying; ~10d coverage of decay phase of large compact spot group; ~5d coverage of small spotspot gropu forming and evolving; week-long coverage of spot group evolving.
102006/05/142006/12/28WL(QT)~6d coverage of cluster of small spots partially dissolving; ~5d tracking of large stable sunspot; week-long obs. of group of small spots decaying; week-long tracking of pair of large spots with satellites.
112006/12/282007/09/09WL(QT)two week-long coverages of slowly-evolving moderate spot groups; ~10d coverage of evolution and decay of large spot group.
122007/09/092008/11/21WL(QT)~10d tracking (interrupted) of an evolving complex spot group; ~8d tracking of emerging and decaying small sunspot group.
132008/11/212009/10/29WL(QT)Disk-crossing of small decaying sunspot group.

Other summary information on TRACE observations can be found at:

  1. A complementary set of movies in 171Å can be found here.
  2. TRACE search engine; allows searches by ID, objective, channel, date, JOP or campaign number, or coordinates.
  3. TRACE-PFSS overlays: daily comparisons of coronal potential-field models and EUV observations.
  4. TRACE event listing
  5. Flare catalog
  6. Full-disk mosaics (FITS format)
  7. Day-by-day run summary
  8. Coordinated SOHO/MDI-TRACE observations.
  9. Visual summary of TRACE wavelength use
  10. 200+GB of DVD-format sample movies
  11. Short movies featured on the TRACEpod web pages
  12. Visual summary of TRACEpod entries
  13. Topics: eclipses, transits, publications, slide shows, etc.

WL image of spot-group cluster
This 42MB QuickTime movie, taken by TRACE with its White-Light channel, shows three spot groups in close proximity: a slowly-evolving pre-existing spot that sprouts some pores, a moderately-large emerging flux region with pores and spots that evolve rapidly, and a much smaller emerging flux regions with only pores. The images span a period of 6 days, from 2001/08/09 to 2001/08/15.
AR11026 disk crossing in 171Å
This composite image shows 16 snapshots of one of the first active regions of Sunspot Cycle 24, AR 11026, observed by TRACE in its 171Å passband, from 2009/09/23 04:11 UT through 2009/10/01 00:03 UT, i.e. over 8 days with roughly 12h between the images in this set. Even though the region evolved and aged over the 8-day period, the composite image gives a good impression of the 3D structure of the field seen from different angles as the solar rotation gave TRACE a changing perspective. Overall, TRACE collected well over 3000 images of this region during its disk passage.
Small limb filament in 171Å on 2009/08/18
On 2009/08/18, TRACE observed a small filament configuration at the limb. This 2h:20m (QuickTime) movie (rocking back and forth) shows how dynamic these quiet-Sun structures can be, with dark, near-vertical whisps of cool, chromospheric material rocking back and forth with dynamics that is yet to be understood. Courtesy of Aki Takeda (MSU).

Other TRACE images in this collection:
Set 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 34, 35, 36.

See also a collection of images related to the Sun, other cool stars, and solar-terrestrial effects


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