NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center has released an hour-long time-lapse video showing 133 days from the life of the Sun. The video shows the chaotic surface of our star, where huge plasma loops bend along the magnetic field lines. Sometimes the cyclic plasma reconnects with the star, and sometimes it is ejected into space, creating solar winds.
The image was obtained from the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), a spacecraft launched in 2010 as part of NASA’s LWS program. Its main mission lasted five years, and now it has moved into the state of an expanded program. The agency says the SDO should operate until 2030.
The images in the film were taken with an interval of 108 seconds in ultraviolet radiation using the Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment SDO (EVE). When observing, SDO measures the inner space of the Sun, the magnetic field and the hot plasma in the solar corona. It also measures the radiation that creates the ionosphere of the Earth and other planets.
70 thousand photos of the Sun daily
SDO is in geosynchronous orbit at an altitude of 22 thousand kilometers above the Earth, so observing the Sun in this position is very convenient and stable. Every day, SDO captures approximately 70 thousand images with a total volume of up to 1.5 terabytes of data. This is a huge volume. The journal Nature describes it as “one of the largest repositories of solar image data available to mankind”.
NASA’s LWS program seeks to better understand the Sun, in part so that we can predict powerful space weather that could damage satellites, power grids and other infrastructure. SDO plays an important role in these efforts.
SDO is not the only one in the study of the Sun. ESA’s SOHO has been studying the Sun since its launch in 1995. In 2018, NASA launched the Parker Solar Probe, which became the closest object to the Sun and the fastest man-made. In 2020, ESA launched its Solar Orbiter, which would produce the closest images of the Sun and would study the polar regions of the star.
Earlier we reported on how the Solar Orbiter sent an amazing video of approaching the Sun.
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