NASA has just released a decade-long time lapse of the Sun, condensing ten years of roiling stellar fury into just over 60 minutes of video. Watch the video below—in 4K—for a sense of how our grand and fluid home star has remained a constant beacon of light over time. A beacon that really loves blasting coronal mass ejections millions of miles out into space.
Dezeen picked up on NASA’s newly released video, which was created using images taken by the organization’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). NASA’s SDO has been watching the Sun non-stop for the past ten years, and has gathered—wait for it—425 million high-resolution images of the star. Those 425 million images equate to an equally mind-boggling 20 million gigabytes of data.
NASA notes that the 10-year time lapse video uses pictures that were taken in the extreme ultraviolet wavelength of the electromagnetic spectrum. Light at this wavelength, NASA says, depicts the Sun’s corona, which is its outermost atmospheric layer.
As of this month, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory – SDO – has spent ~10 years watching the Sun non-stop. During this time, SDO has gathered 425 million high-res images & amassed 20 million gigabytes of data.— NASA Artemis (@NASAArtemis) June 25, 2020
Here is a Decade of Sun ...
Full video: https://t.co/rTxJXv1hAi pic.twitter.com/6OPEUa1gOs
The Sun’s corona is made up of plasma with a temperature of 2 million degrees Fahrenheit. In the video, it is seen dying down and intensifying in activity over time. This occurs as a part of the Sun’s 11-year solar cycle: the cycle that sees the Sun’s magnetic field, and hence its north and south poles, flip.
On top of this extraordinary time lapse, NASA’s SDO has also captured countless other awe-inspiring images of the Sun. Like this novel magnetic explosion on the Sun’s surface, which the SDO recorded back in 2012. (The video explaining that explosion is definitely worth a watch and may forever change the way you look at the Sun.)
Moving forward, NASA says that the SDO and other missions will continue to watch the Sun in order to provide more information that will keep astronauts and space assets safe. NASA also wants the SDO to provide “further insights about our place in space,” which, as we can all tell by this time lapse, is undoubtedly tiny and fleeting.
What do you think about this ten-year time lapse of the Sun? Are you shocked to hear that its magnetic poles switch every 11 years like clockwork? Let’s get some bright ideas going in the comments!
Feature image: NASA