The amazing images and movies below were
captured by NASA’s latest and most advanced solar telescope, the Solar
Dynamics Observatory (SDO). SDO is part of the
Living with a Star (LWS) programme. Professor Lika Guhathakutta, NASA’s
lead Programme Scientist for LWS says, “The SDO mission evokes a sense of
wonder when we see the fantastic solar images and movies. We can see
new science unfolding in front of our eyes.”.
The Extreme UltraViolet (EUV) image of the Sun shown below was taken by
SDO on 30th March 2010 and shows gas at different temperatures (red is
60,000 °C; blues and greens are about 1,000,000 °C).
Several active regions can be seen in the image above, with large loops of hot gas tracing out the Sun’s magnetic field.
On the solar limb (at the 10 o’clock position) is a huge explosion with gas and twisted magnetic fields reaching high above the solar surface.
Three instruments are carried by SDO.
The Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) takes high resolution (very detailed) images of the solar atmosphere in different wavebands, characteristic of different temperatures.
The Heliospheric and Magnetic Imager (HMI) maps the Sun’s magnetic field in detail, and also probes beneath the surface using sophisticated techniques of Helioseismology.
The Extreme UV Experiment (EVE) measures fluctuations in the Sun’s radiation. These data will lead to a better understanding of how the Sun’s UV radiation interacts with the Earth’s atmosphere, affecting its chemistry and the Earth’s climate.
SDO was launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on 11th February 2010 aboard an Atlas V rocket.
SDO will produce absolutely huge amounts of data. Over 1.5 terabytes of data will be sent back to Earth each day, which is equivalent to downloading half a million songs onto an MP3 player each day. It is a challenge for scientists to deal with so much data.
A huge eruption seen by SDOAIA reaches out high above the solar surface, 30 times the Earth's diameter.
The NASA teams are working closely with UK scientists to understand the Sun’s dynamic nature.