Since February 2010, NASA has captured more than an image per second for over 1,800 days to string together this amazing time-lapse of our sun. This year marks the five-year anniversary of the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). To celebrate, NASA has publicly released this mesmerizing video of the sun's daily dance in sharp definition. This fascinating imagery has been released as public domain and can be downloaded for free in all its glory on NASA's website.
Compiling this massive amount of imagery has amounted to over 200 million photographs: an accumulated 2,600 terabytes of data from images captured at 4,096 pixels square. To celebrate this achievement, NASA has put together this amazing video in addition to a full art exhibit at The Solarium at Goddard Visitor Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. At this installation, you can stand surrounded by golden images of our sun photographed in both visible light and ultraviolet light.
For a full five years, SDO has captured breathtaking photos that peak scientific curiosity. From record-sized solar flares to sun spots, SDO, managed and operated by Goddard, has captured every notable movement from this massive force at the center of our solar system. We have learned much over the last few years as to what causes these flares, bursts of energy, and explosive X-rays. Through these images and this time-lapse, scientists have been able to study the origin of flares and coronal mass ejections (giant clouds of solar material that escape from the surface and into space).
Though this imagery was created solely for scientific purposes, it still remains incredibly interesting to watch. Scientists use this data by watching the sun in different wavelengths. Different wavelengths indicate different temperatures, the distinctions of which allow specialists to watch how material moves through the corona. This study clues us in to what causes eruptions on the sun and, thus, what heats the sun's atmosphere up to 1,000 times hotter than its surface. All this information can then be used to study why the sun's magnetic fields are constantly on the move and to learn more about the life of the star.