NASA releases 5 year time-lapse of the sun (watch video)

NASA releases 5 year time-lapse of the sun (watch video)

NASA releases 5 year time-lapse of the sun (watch video)

Written by Staff Writer

12 Feb, 2015 | 6:58 pm

To mark five years in space for the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), NASA released a stunning time-lapse video on Wednesday (February 11) that showcases highlights of the sun’s activity over five years of observation.

Launched by NASA on February 11, 2010, the SDO is the most advanced spacecraft ever designed to study the sun. Equipped with a group of four sophisticated telescopes called the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA), the SDO can observe and transmit highly detailed images of the sun in different wavelengths.

The images coloured in teal are observations made in the 131 Angstrom wavelength, regarded as ideal for visualising material at the very hot temperatures of a solar flare.
In the past five years it has captured unprecedentedly clear pictures of how massive explosions on the sun grow and erupt. Highlights include giant clouds of solar material hurled out into space, the dance of giant loops hovering in the corona, and huge sunspots growing and shrinking on the sun’s surface.

Some of the most breathtaking images have been of solar flares erupting from the surface. Of most concern to scientists is usually the size and direction of the coronal mass ejection (CME) that accompanies such flares. A coronal mass ejection can send billions of tonnes of solar particles into space. If directed towards Earth, that energy can affect electronic systems in satellites and on the ground.

By watching the sun at different wavelengths, and therefore different temperatures, the data collected by scientists can help them in their research to discover what causes eruptions on the sun, what heats the sun’s atmosphere to 1,000 times the temperature of its surface, and why the sun’s magnetic fields are constantly moving.


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