NASA

Week in Geek: Our neighborhood star, up close and personal

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) recently released a five-year time-lapse video of our Sun, to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the launch of the satellite. SDO was launched from Cape Canaveral in 2010 as part of NASA’s Living with a Star program and has been orbiting more than 22,000 miles above our heads ever since. The goal of the mission is to better characterize and understand the Sun’s variability and its effect on Earth. Besides sun burns and auroras, it’s sometimes all too easy to forget that our Sun is a miasma of incandescent of plasma with a fiery personality.

This video consists of one frame per eight hours of observations from February 2010 until February 2015. The different colors represent different wavelengths of light that SDO observes with its multiple instruments. Different wavelengths correspond to different energy levels and reveal different facets of the Sun’s behavior. For example, the video starts with the Sun in ultraviolet wavelengths (approximately 171 angstroms), which is ideal for seeing coronal loops. It then shifts to 304 angstroms to better highlight high-density plasma plumes known as filaments and prominences. Some of the segments are actually a combination of wavelengths blended together. If you want to keep a more constant eye on our solar host, check out the the Sun now” – SDO showing our neighbor across all its channels.

Constantly active and ever changing, our Sun is anything but a quiet orb off in space. We’ve been relatively lucky that it hasn’t lashed out at us like some other types of stars are wont to do. That’s the thing about stars – they are essential to life, but they also have the power to end it.

Here’s some more geek that shines bright:

Keep on geeking!

@Summer_AshIn-house Astrophysicist

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Week in Geek: Our neighborhood star, up close and personal