A decade of the sun, in the palm of your hand; NASA has put together a mesmerising one-hour video of an entire solar cycle.
From February 2010 to June this year, the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) captured 425 million high-resolution images of the sun. This amounts to a whopping 20 million gigabytes of data, enabling ‘countless new discoveries’ about how we understand our star.
Over the course of a 61-minute video, you’ll witness ‘transiting planets, eruptions’ and an entire solar cycle, which sees the sun’s north and south poles flip. Each second of the film represents images taken on a single day; if you wanted to see what the sun looked like on your birthday, now’s your chance.
You can check out a whole time-lapse of the sun below:
Using a ‘triad of instruments’, the SDO captured images of the sun every 0.75 seconds. For example, the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) instrument alone captures images every 12 seconds at 10 different wavelengths of light, according to NASA Goddard.
However, only images taken at a wavelength of 17.1 nanometres are shown in the video, allowing for the sun’s bright yellow, atmospheric outermost layer, known as the corona, to be visible.
There are a few blips: in 2016, a temporary problem with the AIA caused a ‘longer blackout’, while occasional dark frames in the video are ’caused by Earth or the Moon eclipsing SDO as they pass between the spacecraft and the sun’.
There’s some incredible moments, notably the transit of Venus across the face of the sun, which won’t happen again until 2177. The SDO is expected to continue observing the sun through to 2030, ‘providing further insights about our place in space’.