Incredible NASA video compresses over 100 days on the Sun into 1 hour: ScienceAlert

Incredible NASA video compresses over 100 days on the Sun into 1 hour: ScienceAlert

Incredible NASA video compresses over 100 days on the Sun into 1 hour: ScienceAlert

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center has released an hour-long time-lapse video that shows 133 days of the Sun’s life.

The video shows the Sun’s chaotic surface, where large loops of plasma arc above the star along magnetic field lines. Sometimes the looping plasma reconnects to the star, and other times it is ejected into space, creating dangerous space weather.

The images are from the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), a spacecraft launched in 2010 as part of NASA’s Living With a Star (LWS) program. Its primary mission lasted five years, but NASA says the SDO is expected to remain operational until 2030.

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The film frames were captured 108 seconds apart in the extreme ultraviolet wavelength with the SDO’s Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment (EVE). The SDO is in a geosynchronous orbit 22,000 kilometers (13,670 miles) above Earth, and the Sun rotates every 27 days, creating an ever-changing view of the star’s surface.

While observing, the SDO measures the interior of the Sun, the magnetic field and the hot plasma in the solar corona. It also measures the irradiance that creates the ionospheres of Earth and other planets.

Every day, the SDO captures approximately 70,000 images totaling up to 1.5 terabytes of data. That’s an extraordinary amount of data, and a 2017 article in Nature who compiled all of this data into a single repository described it as “…one of the richest and most important repositories of solar imagery data available to mankind”.

Turbulent activity spanning the entire surface of the sun
A burst of active flares across the sun. (NASA/GSFC/SDO.

Most astronomy is about distant stars in other Milky Way solar systems. It’s easy to forget that we live next to a mighty star that fuses hydrogen into helium long before any life appeared on Earth and will outlive all life on Earth.

There’s a lot going on in the Sun, and its activity affects the Earth and everything that lives on it. The Sun provides a steady source of reliable energy, but it also has an unsettling, almost malevolent aspect.

NASA’s LWS program aims to better understand the Sun, in part so we can understand and predict powerful space weather that can damage satellites, power grids and other infrastructure. The SDO plays a vital role in this effort.

A white paper explaining the mission said, “SDO will determine how the Sun’s magnetic field is generated, structured, and converted into violent solar events that cause space weather.”

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The spacecraft was very successful. In 2020, NASA made a video to celebrate the observatory’s 10th anniversary. He highlighted ten important observations and discoveries. SDO has seen massive flares erupt, found a new type of wave, observed planets as they transited the Sun, and seen the star tear apart a comet that got too close.

The SDO is not the only one to study the Sun. ESA’s SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) has been studying the Sun since its launch in 1995.

In 2018, NASA launched the Parker Solar Probe, which became the closest man-made object to the Sun. In 2020, ESA launched its Solar Orbiter, which will take images closest to the Sun and study the star’s polar regions.

The Sun is a scientifically interesting object, but it is also visually stunning and one that everyone can relate to. As our civilization’s nascent space economy grows, we will have more satellites and other infrastructure — perhaps on the surface of the Moon — that will be vulnerable to severe space weather. Solar observatories like the SDO allow us to predict space weather and, possibly, prepare for it.

Most of us have no part in this, but we can still enjoy movies.

This article was originally published by Universe Today. Read the original article.

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