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2020

  • Solar Activity Continues to Rise with 'Anemone' Eruption
    2020.12.03
    This imagery captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory shows a solar flare and a subsequent eruption of solar material that occurred over the left limb of the Sun on November 29, 2020. From its foot point over the limb, some of the light and energy was blocked from reaching Earth – a little like seeing light from a lightbulb with the bottom half covered up. Also visible in the imagery is an eruption of solar material that achieved escape velocity and moved out into space as a giant cloud of gas and magnetic fields known as a coronal mass ejection, or CME. A third, but invisible, feature of such eruptive events also blew off the Sun: a swarm of fast-moving solar energetic particles. Such particles are guided by the magnetic fields streaming out from the Sun, which, due to the Sun’s constant rotation, point backwards in a big spiral much the way water comes out of a spinning sprinkler. The solar energetic particles, therefore, emerging as they did from a part of the Sun not yet completely rotated into our view, traveled along that magnetic spiral away from Earth toward the other side of the Sun. While the solar material didn’t head toward Earth, it did pass by some spacecraft: NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, NASA’s STEREO and ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter. Equipped to measure magnetic fields and the particles that pass over them, we may be able to study fast-moving solar energetic particles in the observations once they are downloaded. These sun-watching missions are all part of a larger heliophysics fleet that help us understand both what causes such eruptions on the Sun -- as well as how solar activity affects interplanetary space, including near Earth, where they have the potential to affect astronauts and satellites.
  • Ten Years of Solar Dynamics Observatory
    2020.06.24
    Here we present a continuous run of data from the AIA instrument 171 angstrom filter aboard Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). Compiling one photo every hour, the movie condenses a decade of the Sun (June 2, 2010-June 1, 2020) into an almost 49 minute time lapse, where every second corresponds to 30 hours. There's a number of phenomema observed:
    • Earth eclipses: usually occur in February-March and August-September each year.
    • Lunar transits: We see the lunar disk block out the Sun
    • Instrument repointings for calibration purposes
    Naturally this movie includes a number of events that have been explored previously: Interesting physical features:
    • In October and November 2014, a large helmet streamer is visible so high above the solar limb that you can observe it projecting above the solar limb as in moves across the far-side of the Sun.
    At various times the AIA instrument failed to collect data resulting in some large data gaps appearing in this visualization as black frames.
    • April 1, 2015: about 8 hours
    • May 13, 2015: about 6 hours
    • December 26, 2015: about 27 hours
    • August 2, 2016: about 8 days
    • April 30, 2017: about a day
    • June 28, 2018: about 18 hours

2019

  • Mercury Transit, 2019 (SDO 4K imagery)
    2019.11.11
    These are full resolution (4Kx4K) images of Mercury transit as seen by Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO).
  • New sites for magnetic reconnection
    2019.12.17
    This sequence of solar imagery from Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) reveals some observational evidence of a previously theorized alternative driver of magnetic reconnection. Plasma flows tracing the magnetic field configuration (AIA 171Å imagery), and a nearby prominence (AIA 304Å imagery) illustrate this interchange of matter and energy. The primary event of interest occurs just above the active region on the left limb of the Sun between 14:00 and 15:00 hours UT on May 3, 2012.

2018

  • Incredible Solar Flare, Prominence Eruption and CME Event (hydrogen alpha filter)
    2018.06.27
    On June 7, 2011, an M-2 flare occurred on the Sun which released a very large coronal mass ejection (CME). This view filtered for the hydrogen-alpha spectral line is collected from ground-based observatories operated by the National Solar Observatory (NSO). This view is provided as a comparison to how dramatic the event appears in extreme ultraviolet light, as seen in 3838 (304 Ångstroms), 3839 (171 Ångstroms), and 3840 (211 Ångstroms), near ultraviolet light, 3841 (1700 Ångstroms), presented a much less impressive event.

2017

  • The X8.2 Flare of September 2017, as Seen by SDO
    2019.05.01
    Between September 9-10 of 2017, the Sun launched a series of three coronal mass ejections (CMEs), culminating with an X8.2 flare from the eastern limb, as the active region was rotating away from the Earth. These events rippled across the solar system, and were detected by multiple NASA missions. A slow (500 km/s) CME was launched at 23:46UT on September 9. A second faster CME (1000km/s) was launched on September 10 at 02:16UT and the fastest CME (2600 km/s) was launched at 16:54 UT. The faster CMEs would eventually catch up with the slower CME and merge into a single CME moving through the solar system. These image sequences from SDO are selected at a higher time resolution (12 seconds between frames) compared to some of the older content related to these events.
  • September Flares 4k
    2017.10.06
    Full-resolution 4k resources for the series of early September flares from active region 2673. These flares include: --an M5.5 at 4:33 p.m. EDT on Sept. 4, 2017 --an X2.2 at 5:10 a.m. EDT on Sept. 6, 2017 --an X9.3 at 8:02 a.m. EDT on Sept. 6, 2017 --an M7.3 at 6:15 a.m. EDT on Sept. 7, 2017 --an X1.3 at 10:36 a.m. EDT on Sept. 7, 2017 --an M8.1 at 3:49 a.m. EDT on Sept. 8, 2017 --an X8.2 at 12:47 p.m. EDT on Sept. 10, 2017
  • A Solar Cycle from Solar Dynamics Observatory
    2017.02.11
    This visualization is a series of graphic components to present nearly a full sunspot cycle observed by Solar Dynamics Observatory.
  • AR2665: The Lonely Sunspot of Solar Minimum
    2017.08.04
    A large, lone sunspot group marches across the solar disk over a period of almost two weeks. The spot group stands out during this minimum in solar activity. During the nearly two weeks of observations, a couple of instrument calibration maneuvers occurred. One happened on July 5, starting around 13:30UT (ending around 16:10UT), and another on July 12 around 15:10 UT (ending around 21:10UT).

2016

  • Mercury Transit 2016 from SDO/AIA at 304 Ångstroms
    2016.06.01
    Mercury transit, from May 9, 2016, as seen by the AIA telescope with 304 Ångstrom filter on Solar Dynamics Observatory. This is a composited product, producing a full disk 4Kx4K view by combining the image subsets taken at 12 second cadence with full-disk images taken about every 90 seconds. It is generated for esthetics use and it not suitable for scientific analysis.
  • Mercury Transit 2016 from SDO/AIA at 171 Ångstroms
    2016.06.01
    Mercury transit, from May 9, 2016, as seen by the AIA telescope with 171 Ångstrom filter on Solar Dynamics Observatory. This is a composited product, producing a full disk 4Kx4K view by combining the image subsets taken at 12 second cadence with full-disk images taken about every 90 seconds. It is generated for esthetics use and it not suitable for scientific analysis.
  • Mercury Transit 2016 from SDO/HMI
    2016.06.01
    Mercury transit, from May 9, 2016, as seen by the HMI telescope on Solar Dynamics Observatory.
  • SDO: Year 6
    2016.02.12
    The sun is always changing and NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory is always watching. Launched on Feb. 11, 2010, SDO keeps a 24-hour eye on the entire disk of the sun, with a prime view of the graceful dance of solar material coursing through the sun's atmosphere, the corona. SDO's sixth year in orbit was no exception. This video shows that entire sixth year--from Jan. 1, 2015 to Jan. 28, 2016 as one time-lapse sequence. At full quality, this video is ultra-high definition 3840x2160 and 59.94 frames per second. Each frame represents 1 hour. SDO's Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) captures a shot of the sun every 12 seconds in 10 different wavelengths. The images shown here are based on a wavelength of 171 angstroms, which is in the extreme ultraviolet range and shows solar material at around 600,000 Kelvin (about 1 million degrees F.) In this wavelength it is easy to see the sun's 25-day rotation. During the course of the video, the sun subtly increases and decreases in apparent size. This is because the distance between the SDO spacecraft and the sun varies over time. The image is, however, remarkably consistent and stable despite the fact that SDO orbits Earth at 6,876 mph and the Earth orbits the sun at 67,062 miles per hour. Scientists study these images to better understand the complex electromagnetic system causing the constant movement on the sun, which can ultimately have an effect closer to Earth, too: Flares and another type of solar explosion called coronal mass ejections can sometimes disrupt technology in space. Moreover, studying our closest star is one way of learning about other stars in the galaxy. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. built, operates, and manages the SDO spacecraft for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C.
  • SDO Year 6: A Year of the Sun
    2016.02.12
    A view of the sun from Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) in 171 Angstroms. Each frame of this animation corresponds to one hour. During this run, we see a host of other events during the course of the year.

2015

  • NASA's SDO Observes a Cinco de Mayo Solar Flare
    2015.05.06
    The sun emitted a significant solar flare, peaking at 6:11 pm EDT on May 5, 2015. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which watches the sun constantly, captured an image of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however -- when intense enough -- they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel.    This flare is classified as an X2.7-class flare. X-class denotes the most intense flares, while the number provides more information about its strength. An X2 is twice as intense as an X1, an X3 is three times as intense, etc.
  • Summer Sun from SDO: Eruption and Coronal Loops on the Solar Limb
    2016.02.11
    A prominent eruption off the lower right limb of the Sun, June 18, 2015, followed by some complex coronal loop evolution.
  • Solar Dynamics Observatory: April 21, 2015 Eruption on the Solar Limb
    2016.02.11
    On April 21, 2015 , the Solar Dynamics Observatory caught a magnificent eruption of coronal plasma as an active region was carried into view by solar rotation.

2014

  • Just over the Limb Solar Event captured by SDO and IRIS
    2015.02.11
    On May 9, 2014, an active region has just rotated over the limb of the Sun when it launches a large amount of plasma into space. Both SDO and IRIS caught the event.
  • Twelve Days of AR12192 from SDO and GOES
    2015.02.11
    The large active region AR12192 is carried across the solar disk by the Sun's rotation. The region erupted with a large number of M and an X-class flares. Flare classification is defined by the measured X-ray flux from a detector on the GOES satellites (see Classifying Solar Eruptions). This visualization was the result of some experiments to present both the SDO imagery and GOES X-ray flux as part of a single movie.
  • October X-flare from Solar Dynamics Observatory
    2015.02.11
    Active Region AR12192 moved across the solar disk in late October 2014 (lower center of solar disk, around 15:00 hour time-stamp). The region fired-off a batch of flares, ranging from M-class to a few X-class flares, during this time, but only one coronal mass ejection (CME) was detected.
  • The Little Flux Rope that Couldn't
    2017.08.11
    A magnetic flux rope (lower right of image) can't quite hold together sufficient to create a flare or coronal mass ejection.
  • Sun unleashes first X-class flare of 2014
    2014.01.07
    The sun emitted a significant solar flare peaking at 1:32 p.m. EST on Jan.7, 2014. This is the first significant flare of 2014, and follows on the heels of mid-level flare earlier in the day. Each flare was centered over a different area of a large sunspot group currently situated at the center of the sun, about half way through its 14-day journey across the front of the disk along with the rotation of the sun.

    This flare is classified as an X1.2-class flare. X-class denotes the most intense flares, while the number provides more information about its strength. An X2 is twice as intense as an X1, an X3 is three times as intense, etc.

  • December 2014 Sparkling X-Flare from Solar Dynamics Observatory
    2015.02.11
    In the latter half of December 2014, the Sun erupted with an X-flare that launched a number of bright flashes in succession over a period of several hours.
  • SDO Lunar Transit, Prominence Eruption, and M-Class Flare
    2014.01.30
    On Jan 30, 2014, beginning at 8:31 a.m EST, the moon moved between NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, and the sun, giving the observatory a view of a partial solar eclipse from space. Such a lunar transit happens two to three times each year. This one lasted two and one half hours, which is the longest ever recorded. When the next one will occur is as of yet unknown due to planned adjustments in SDO's orbit.

    Note in the pictures how crisp the horizon is on the moon, a reflection of the fact that the moon has no atmosphere around it to distort the light from the sun.

    The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 11:11 a.m. EST on Jan. 30, 2014. Images of the flare were captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, shortly after the observatory witnessed a lunar transit. The black disk of the moon can be seen in the lower right of the images.

  • The Big Sunspot of 2014
    2015.02.11
    The largest sunspot seen so far in this solar cycle produced a number of flares, even a few X-class flares, but only one rather small coronal mass ejection (CME). Here is a view of the sunspot group during the two weeks it took to pass across the solar disk
  • December 4, 2014: M6 Flare as Seen by Solar Dynamics Observatory & GOES
    2015.02.11
    This visualization is another experiment combining two datasets, the imaging capability of the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) and the X-ray flux measurments of the GOES satellite. It is focussed on the December 4, 2014 M6 flare. The GOES satellite X-ray detector has defined the standard for classifying solar flares (see Classifying Solar Eruptions).
  • The X-Class Flare of January 2014
    2014.02.11
    Early January of 2014 saw one of the largest sunspot groups of solar cycle 24 and some X-class flares near the center of the solar disk from active region AR 11943. These flares launched a few small coronal mass ejections towards the Earth.
  • The M7 Flare of October 2, 2014, seen from SDO
    2015.02.11
    Just before solar rotation carries it over the solar limb (as seen from SDO), an active region launches an impressive M7 flare (lower right limb). A large amount of solar plasma is also launched into space and we observe some of the material falling back onto the Sun.
  • September 2014 X-Flare
    2015.02.11
    On September 10, 2014, the sun erupts with an X-flare of intensity X1.6 in the center of the solar disk. The event also launches a coronal mass ejection earthward.
  • August 24, 2014: Magnificent M-flare
    2015.02.11
    M-flares are not the most powerful flares the Sun can emit, but sometimes even they can exhibit visually exciting behavior. Here we show the lead-up to an M-flare which lauches a large amount of plasma into space. The eruption takes place starting around 12:00 UTC and launches over the next 15 minutes. But stay with it, and you'll also see some of the plasma falling back towards the Sun around 13:50 UTC.
  • March 2014: Erupting Solar Prominence
    2015.02.11
    A solar filament, in the upper left quadrant of the image, erupts from the Sun (about time stamp 2014 March 29 01:54:00 UTC). There is a gap of 40 minutes in the data coverage, from 03:00 - 03:40 UT.
  • The Fast X4 Flare from February 2014
    2015.02.11
    The Sun launches a fast X-ray flare in late February 2014 and is seen by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). The eruption sends a bright ribbon of plasma off the limb of the Sun.
  • Double Solar Flare of June 10, 2014 as Seen by SDO
    2015.02.11
    Multiple flares erupted from the same active region just a few hours apart on June 10, 2014. The first flare, an M-class, erupted near the limb of the sun. Within a couple of hours, two more X-class flares erupted (see Classifying Solar Eruptions) peaked at 12:52UT. A number of smaller flares erupted from the same region before and after the largest events.
  • A Multi-Mission View of a Solar Flare: Optical to Gamma-rays
    2014.05.07
    To improve our understanding of complex phenomena such as solar flares, a wide variety of tools are needed. In the case of astronomy, those tools enable us to analyze the light in many different wavelengths and many different ways. Many different instruments are observing the Sun almost continuously, both from space and on the surface of the Earth. On March 29, 2014, the Dunn Solar Telescope at Sacramento Peak, New Mexico was observing a solar active region and requested other observatories to watch as well. As a result of this coordination, the region was being observed by a large number of different instruments, ground and space-based, when it subsequently erupted with an X-class flare. This visualization presents various combinations of the datasets collected during this effort. The color text represents the dominant color of the dataset in the imagery.
    • Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO): HMI (617.1nm). This data represents the Sun is visible light similar to how we see it from the ground.
    • Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO): AIA (17.3nm). Solar ultraviolet emission, which can only be seen from space, reveals plasma flowing, and escaping, along magnetic fields.
    • IRIS Slit-Jaw Imager: 140.0nm. This high-resolution imager also contains a slit (the dark vertical line in the center of the field) which directs the light to an ultraviolet spectrometer which is used to extract even more information about the light. The imager slews back-and-forth across the region, providing spectra over a larger area of the Sun.
    • Hinode/X-ray Telescope: x-ray band. Indicates very hot plasma.
    • RHESSI: 50-100 keV. High-energy gamma-ray emission. Emission from these locations represent the very highest energy photons from the flare event.
    • Dunn Solar Telescope: G-band filter. This filter, showing much of the solar surface (photosphere) in visible light, provides a detailed view of the sunspots and convection cells. The view moves because the instrument was repointed several times during the observation.
    • Dunn Solar Telescope: IBIS ( Hydrogen alpha, 656.3nm; Calcium 854.2 nm; Iron 630.15nm). This is the small rectangular view within the Dunn Solar Telescope G-band view. This instrument can tune the wavelength during the observation, which provides views of the solar atmosphere at different depths.
  • Sun Emits 3 X-class Flares in 2 Days
    2014.06.10
    The sun emitted a significant solar flare, peaking at 7:42 a.m. EDT on June 10, 2014. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory – which typically observes the entire sun 24 hours a day — captured images of the flare. This flare is classified as an X2.2 flare. X-class denotes the most intense flares, while the number provides more information about its strength. An X2 is twice as intense as an X1, an X3 is three times as intense, etc. About one hour later, the sun released a second X-class flare, peaking at 8:52 a.m. EDT on June 10, 2014. This is classified as an X1.5 flare.
  • September 10, 2014 X1.6 flare
    2014.09.11
    The sun emitted a significant solar flare, peaking at 1:48 p.m. EDT on Sept. 10, 2014. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured images of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground. However — when intense enough — they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel. This flare is classified as an X1.6 class flare. "X-class" denotes the most intense flares, while the number provides more information about its strength. An X2 is twice as intense as an X1, an X3 is three times as intense, etc.
  • Sun Emits Mid-Level Flare on October 2, 2014
    2014.10.03
    The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 3:01 p.m. EDT on Oct. 2, 2014. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, which watches the sun 24-hours a day, captured images of the flare. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however — when intense enough — they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel. This flare is classified as an M7.3 flare. M-class flares are one-tenth as powerful as the most powerful flares, which are designated X-class flares.
  • Holiday Lights on the Sun
    2014.12.22
    The sun emitted a significant solar flare, peaking at 7:24 p.m. EST on Dec. 19, 2014. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which watches the sun constantly, captured an image of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however -- when intense enough -- they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel. To see how this event may affect Earth, please visit NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center at http://spaceweather.gov, the U.S. government's official source for space weather forecasts, alerts, watches and warnings. This flare is classified as an X1.8-class flare. X-class denotes the most intense flares, while the number provides more information about its strength. An X2 is twice as intense as an X1, an X3 is three times as intense, etc.

2013

  • First Earth-Directed CME of 2013
    2013.01.21
    On Jan. 13, 2013, at 2:24 a.m. EST, the sun erupted with an Earth-directed coronal mass ejection or CME. Not to be confused with a solar flare, a CME is a solar phenomenon that can send solar particles into space and reach Earth one to three days later.

    Experimental NASA research models, based on observations from the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) and the ESA/NASA mission the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, show that the CME left the sun at speeds of 275 miles per second. This is a fairly typical speed for CMEs, though much slower than the fastest ones, which can be almost ten times that speed.

    This visualization is constructed from a computer model run of the January 13, 2013 CME. The preliminary CME parameters were measured from instruments on the STEREO (the red and blue satellite icons) and SDO (in Earth orbit) satellites. The Enlil model was used to propagate those parameters through the solar system. From this model, they can estimate the strength and time of arrival of the CME at various locations around the solar system. This allows other missions to either safe-mode their satellites for protection, or allow them to conduct measurements to test the accuracy of the model.

    When Earth-directed, CMEs can cause a space weather phenomenon called a geomagnetic storm, which occurs when they successfully connect up with the outside of the Earth's magnetic envelope, the magnetosphere, for an extended period of time. In the past, CMEs of this speed have not caused substantial geomagnetic storms. They have caused auroras near the poles but are unlikely to affect electrical systems on Earth or interfere with GPS or satellite-based communications systems.

    Two active regions — named AR 11652 and AR 11654 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) — have produced four low-level M-class flares since Jan. 11. Solar flares are powerful bursts of light and radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however, when intense enough, they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel. M-class flares are the weakest flares that can still cause some space weather effects near Earth. The recent flares caused weak radio blackouts and their effects have already subsided.

    NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center is the United States Government official source for space weather forecasts.

  • January 31, 2013 CME and Prominence Eruption
    2013.01.31
    On Jan. 31, 2013 at 2:09am EST, the sun erupted with an Earth-directed coronal mass ejection or CME. Experimental NASA research models, based on observations from the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) and ESA/NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, show that the CME left the sun at speeds of around 575 miles per second, which is a fairly typical speed for CMEs. Historically, CMEs at this speed are mild.

    Not to be confused with a solar flare, a CME is a solar phenomenon that can send solar particles into space and reach Earth one to three days later.

    Earth-directed CMEs can cause a space weather phenomenon called a geomagnetic storm, which occurs when they connect with the outside of the Earth's magnetic envelope, the magnetosphere, for an extended period of time. In the past, CME's such as this have caused auroras near the poles but didn't disrupt electrical systems on Earth or interfere with GPS or satellite-based communications systems.

  • Solar Prominence from SDO: July 1, 2013
    2014.02.11
    A large solar prominence, caught in a tug-of-war between solar gravity pulling it downward and magnetic gradients lifting upward, hovers over the limb of the Sun (left) before eventually launching into space.
  • June 2013's 'Busy Sun'
    2014.02.11
    June of 2013, near the maximum of solar cycle 24, while not extremely active from a solar flare perspective, presented a range of diverse phenomena. We have a couple of solar 'tornadoes' (the twisted protrusions off the limb of the Sun in upper and lower left quadrants), which we eventually see erupt material into space. There are also a number of coronal loops in active regions which are incredibly stable but still exhibit much fine detail.
  • SDO's Multi-wavelength View of a May 2013 Solar Flare
    2014.02.11
    An active region on the left limb of the Sun launches a large flare and coronal material in this sequence from early May 2013.
  • Boiling Solar Prominence from February 2013
    2014.02.11
    A long-lived prominence (see Wikipedia) hovers over the limb of the Sun (about the 4-5 o'clock position) before breaking up.
  • More Solar Excitement - October 2013
    2014.02.11
    Solar activity in October 2013 continues with several active regions, particularly on the limb, launching solar material into space.
  • February 2013: The Busy Sun
    2014.02.11
    Even near solar maximum, with sunspots dotting the photosphere, the Sun can look tranquil and serene in visible light. In the case of these images from the HMI instrument on the Solar Dynamics Observatory, the only obvious changes are the constant shimmering of the solar disk due to the bubbling of solar granulation.

    But in ultraviolet light, in particular the 30.4 nanometer line of the helium ion, we see much more activity. Dark, wispy lines of cooler solar filaments (the term used for solar prominences when seen against the disk) stretch across the disk. The same structures, seen against the fainter glow of the solar corona, resemble slowly evolving flames on the limb of the Sun. Solar active regions surrounding the sunspots, appear bright in ultraviolet light.

  • NASA's Heliophysics Fleet Captures May 1, 2013 Prominence Eruption and CME
    2013.05.07
    On May 1, 2013, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) watched as an active region just around the East limb (left edge) of the sun erupted with a huge cloud of solar material—a heated, charged gas called plasma. This eruption, called a coronal mass ejection, or CME, sent the plasma streaming out through the solar system. Viewing the sun in the extreme ultraviolet wavelength of 304 angstroms, SDO provided a beautiful view of the initial arc as it left the solar surface.

    Such eruptions soon leave SDO's field of view, but other satellites in NASA's Heliophysics fleet can pick them up, tracking such space weather to determine if they are headed toward Earth or spacecraft near other planets. With advance warning, many space assets can be put into safe mode and protect themselves from the effects of such particle radiation.

    In addition to the images captured by SDO, the May 1, 2013 CME was also observed by the ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). SOHO houses two overlapping coronagraphs—telescopes where the bright sun is blocked by a disk so it doesn't overpower the fainter solar atmosphere—and they both saw the CME continue outward. The LASCO C2 coronagraph shows the region out to about 2.5 million miles. The LASCO C3 coronagraph expands even farther out to around 13.5 million miles. Both of these instruments show the CME as it expands and becomes fainter on its trip away from the sun.

    NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) Ahead satellite saw the eruption from a very different angle. It, along with its twin STEREO Behind, is orbiting at a similar distance as Earth. STEREO-A orbits slightly faster than Earth and STEREO-B orbits slightly slower. Currently, STEREO-A is more than two-thirds of the way to being directly behind the sun, and has a view of the far side of the sun. From this perspective, the CME came off the right side of the sun. STEREO has an extreme ultraviolet camera similar to SDO's, but it also has coronagraphs like SOHO. As a result, using its two inner coronagraphs, it was able to track the CME from the solar surface out to 6.3 million miles.

    Working together, such missions provide excellent coverage of a wide variety of solar events, a wealth of scientific data—and lots of beautiful imagery.

    Watch this video on YouTube.

  • First X-Class Solar Flares of 2013
    2013.05.13
    On May 13, 2013, the sun emitted an X2.8-class flare, peaking at 12:05 p.m. EDT. This is the the strongest X-class flare of 2013 so far, surpassing in strength the X1.7-class flare that occurred 14 hours earlier. It is the 16th X-class flare of the current solar cycle and the third-largest flare of that cycle. The second-strongest was an X5.4 event on March 7, 2012. The strongest was an X6.9 on Aug. 9, 2011.

    On May 12, 2013, the sun emitted a significant solar flare, peaking at 10 p.m. EDT. This flare is classified as an X1.7, making it the first X-class flare of 2013. The flare was also associated with another solar phenomenon, called a coronal mass ejection (CME) that can send solar material out into space. This CME was not Earth-directed.

    The May 12 flare was also associated with a coronal mass ejection, another solar phenomenon that can send billions of tons of solar particles into space, which can affect electronic systems in satellites and on the ground. Experimental NASA research models show that the CME left the sun at 745 miles per second and is not Earth-directed, however its flank may pass by the STEREO-B and Spitzer spacecraft, and their mission operators have been notified. If warranted, operators can put spacecraft into safe mode to protect the instruments from solar material. There is some particle radiation associated with this event, which is what can concern operators of interplanetary spacecraft since the particles can trip computer electronics on board.

  • October 2013 X-Flare from Solar Dynamics Observatory
    2014.02.11
    Another Halloween space weather fest? October-November 2003 of the previous solar cycle saw some of the most energetic solar events since space flight (see Halloween Solar Storms 2003: A Multi-Mission View. Halloween of 2013 has seen a similar round of high solar activity, with energetic flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs).
  • Sun Emits a Solstice CME
    2013.06.28
    On June 20, 2013, at 11:24 p.m., the sun erupted with an Earth-directed coronal mass ejection or CME, a solar phenomenon that can send billions of tons of particles into space that can reach Earth one to three days later. These particles cannot travel through the atmosphere to harm humans on Earth, but they can affect electronic systems in satellites and on the ground.

    Experimental NASA research models, based on observations from NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory and ESA/NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory show that the CME left the sun at speeds of around 1350 miles per second, which is a fast speed for CMEs.

    Earth-directed CMEs can cause a space weather phenomenon called a geomagnetic storm, which occurs when they funnel energy into Earth's magnetic envelope, the magnetosphere, for an extended period of time. The CME's magnetic fields peel back the outermost layers of Earth's fields changing their very shape. Magnetic storms can degrade communication signals and cause unexpected electrical surges in power grids. They also can cause aurora. Storms are rare during solar minimum, but as the sun's activity ramps up every 11 years toward solar maximum—currently expected in late 2013—large storms occur several times per year.

    In the past, geomagnetic storms caused by CMEs of this strength and direction have usually been mild.

    In addition, the CME may pass by additional spacecraft: Messenger, STEREO B, Spitzer, and their mission operators have been notified. If warranted, operators can put spacecraft into safe mode to protect the instruments from the solar material.

  • August 2013: SDO Observes Large Coronal Hole
    2013.09.20
    On the Sun, coronal holes represent regions where the solar magnetic field does not connect back to the Sun. In these cases, the magnetic field guides the charged particles of the solar wind into distant space, forming the fast solar wind.
  • Five Days of Flares and CMEs
    2013.10.29
    This movie shows 23 of the 26 M- and X-class flares on the sun between 18:00 UT Oct. 23 and 15:00 UT Oct. 28, 2013, as captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. It also shows the coronal mass ejections — great clouds of solar material bursting off the sun into space — during that time as captured by the ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory.

2012

  • The View from SDO: The August 31, 2012 Filament Eruption
    2012.10.26
    The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) observed a large filament eruption on August 31, 2012.

    This visualization was generated using high time resolution (12 seconds) data from the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA). Two datasets are used, the SDO/AIA 304 Ångstrom wavelength (orange color table) and the 171 Ångstrom wavelength (gold color table). These are wavelengths in the ultraviolet band of the electromagnetic spectrum. They are not visible to the human eye or to ground-based telescopes so coded colors are used in presentation.

    It is the source material for "August 31, 2012 Magnificent CME" visualization.

  • August 31, 2012 Magnificent CME
    2012.09.04
    On August 31, 2012 a long filament of solar material that had been hovering in the sun's atmosphere, the corona, erupted out into space at 4:36 p.m. EDT. The coronal mass ejection, or CME, traveled at over 900 miles per second. The CME did not travel directly toward Earth, but did connect with Earth's magnetic environment, or magnetosphere, with a glancing blow. causing aurora to appear on the night of Monday, September 3.
  • July 2012: Coronal Rain
    2013.02.20
    A moderate solar flare was emitted by the sun on July 19, 2012. At 5:58 UTC it peaked at M7.7 on the flare scale, which makes it fairly powerful, but still much weaker than X-class flares, which are the largest. What made this particular event so noteworthy was the associated activity in the sun's corona. For the next day, hot plasma in corona cooled and condensed along the strong magnetic fields of the region that produced the flare. Magnetic fields are invisible, but the plasma is very obvious in the extreme ultraviolet wavelength of 304 angstroms, which highlights material at a temperature of about 50,000 Kelvin. This plasma is attracted to the magnetic fields and outlines them very clearly as it slowly falls back to the solar surface. This process of condensing plasma falling to the surface is called coronal rain.

    The footage in this video was collected by the Solar Dynamics Observatory's AIA instrument. SDO collected one frame every 12 seconds so each second in this video corresponds to 6 minutes of real time. The video covers 4:30 UTC on July 19th to 2:00 UTC on July 20th, a period of 21 hours and 30 minutes.

    Music—"Thunderbolt" by Lars Leonhard

  • New sites for magnetic reconnection
    2019.12.17
    This sequence of solar imagery from Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) reveals some observational evidence of a previously theorized alternative driver of magnetic reconnection. Plasma flows tracing the magnetic field configuration (AIA 171Å imagery), and a nearby prominence (AIA 304Å imagery) illustrate this interchange of matter and energy. The primary event of interest occurs just above the active region on the left limb of the Sun between 14:00 and 15:00 hours UT on May 3, 2012.
  • Solar Prominence Dance - December 31, 2012
    2013.02.11
    On the final day of 2012, the sun presented a beautiful twisting prominence that rose high into the corona for about 3 hours. It was most visible in extreme ultraviolet light with a wavelength of 304 angstroms. This wavelength highlights plasma with temperatures of around 50,000 Kelvin. The Atmospheric Imaging Assembly on NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the event at 4k resolution and a high imaging cadence of one image every 12 seconds.
  • Before the Flare: AR1520 and Shimmering Coronal Loops
    2012.07.16
    The sun emitted a large flare on July 12, 2012, but earlier in the week it gave a demonstration of how gorgeous solar activity can be. This movie shows the sun from late July 8 to early July 10 shortly before it unleashed an X-class flare beginning at 12:11 PM EDT on July 12 as captured by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO).
  • April 2012 Solar Flare & Eruption
    2015.02.11
    A large eruption occurs on the limb of the Sun (left upper quadrant) around time-stamp 17:33 hours. For the next several hours, material can be see falling back down to the solar surface.
  • Solar Tornados as Seen by SDO (February 7, 2012)
    2012.03.07
    A tornado-like structure is observed coming over the limb of the Sun (upper left quadrant) by SDO.
  • A July 2012 CME from SDO
    2013.01.31
    On July 18, 2012, a fairly small explosion of light burst off the lower right limb of the sun. Such flares often come with an associated eruption of solar material, known as a coronal mass ejection or CME — but this one did not. Something interesting did happen, however. Magnetic field lines in this area of the sun's atmosphere, the corona, began to twist and kink, generating the hottest solar material — a charged gas called plasma — to trace out the newly-formed slinky shape. The plasma glowed brightly in extreme ultraviolet images from the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) aboard NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) and scientists were able to watch for the first time the very formation of something they had long theorized was at the heart of many eruptive events on the sun: a flux rope.

    Eight hours later, on July 19, the same region flared again. This time the flux rope's connection to the sun was severed, and the magnetic fields escaped into space, dragging billions of tons of solar material along for the ride — a classic CME.

  • The Rising Solar Cycle: X5.4 Flare ('W' sunspot group) seen by SDO
    2012.03.07
    Sunspot group 1429 of solar cycle 24 has launched an X5.4 flare can coronal mass ejection (CME) that is forecast to impact the Earth

    This visualization has the full 4Kx4K frames from the 17.1 nm and 13.1 nm filters on the Solar Dynamics Observatory. 2Kx2K MPEG-4 movies are also available.

  • September 23, 2012 Solar Prominence
    2013.02.11
    On September 23, 2012 the sun emitted a large blast of plasma in the form of a prominence (see Wikipedia). This was most visible in extreme ultraviolet light with a wavelength of 304 angstroms. This wavelength highlights plasma with temperatures of around 50,000 Kelvin. The Atmospheric Imaging Assembly on NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the event at 4k resolution and a high imaging cadence of one image every 12 seconds.
  • Monster Prominences with an Earth Eclipse (September 16, 2012)
    2013.02.11
    On September 16, 2012 the sun had a beautiful prominence (see Wikipedia) that slowly twisted and dissipated over several hours. It was captured in 304 angstrom light by the Solar Dynamics Observatory's AIA instrument at 4k resolution and 12s imaging cadence. The prominence was immediately followed by one of the many eclipses that SDO experiences during September, when its orbit places the Earth between it and the sun.
  • Sunspot Growth in June 2012
    2013.02.11
    Groups of sunspots grow and die over a matter of days. This is a movie built from images taken by the SDO/HMI instrument over the course of 13 days during the rise of solar cycle 24.
  • January 2012 - Arcade of Coronal Loops from SDO
    2014.03.14
    An arcade of coronal loops forms and erupts - upper right quadrant of disk.
  • One-Two Solar Punch
    2012.04.17
    Two dramatic solar eruptions on the limb of the Sun, a day apart. Neither of the events were directed towards the Earth. We processed them because they are just so visually spectacular.
  • Blast from the Past: A Flare from January 2012
    2015.05.28
    A coronal loop (upper right quadrant of view) evolves with a slow buildup to a small flare eventually stabilizing as an arcade of coronal loops.
  • Venus Transit 2012 Composited Visuals
    2012.06.11
    These visualizations were generated by compositing the small field-of-view, high-cadence closeups of Venus with the full-disk, low-cadence imagery from Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). Two different instruments are used: the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) which sees light in the visible range, and the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) which sees light in several wavelengths in the ultraviolet range. To find out more information about these instruments, check out The Atmospheric Imaging Assembly Tutorial.

    Some artifacts may be visible from the compositing, but you have to look pretty closely to see them.

    The color table threshold was raised for these images, reducing the amount of noise visible in the images.

    Note: There is an interesting artifact worthy of mention and clarification, and that is as Venus crosses the solar limb, the limb appears to be visible through the planet in some of the imagers (most notably the ultraviolet channels). Discussion with the scientists who built the imagers suggest this might be 'crosstalk' between the readouts of the four CCD panels that make up a complete image. It is an artifact of the imaging system.

  • Venus Transit 2012 from Solar Dynamics Observatory
    2012.06.12
    Full disk and Tracking views of Venus Transit from Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). It includes images taken by the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) and the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA).

    These are the basic images, collected from the telemetry. To see the insets composited, see Venus Transit 2012 Composited Visuals.

  • AR1515 Releases X1.1 Class Flare
    2012.07.09
    Active Region 1515 released an X1.1 class flare from the lower right of the sun on July 6, 2012, peaking at 7:08 PM EDT. This flare caused a radio blackout, labeled as an R3 on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations scale that goes from R1 to R5. Such blackouts can cause disruption to both high and low level radio frequencies.

    Earth's magnetosphere also underwent a minor geomagnetic storm on the evening of July 6 in response to relatively slow coronal mass ejections (CMEs) that have erupted from other regions on the sun since July 4.

  • Active Region 1520 from SDO
    2012.07.17
    This is source material for the SDO view of Active Region 1520 in July of 2012.
  • Growing Active Regions: January 2012
    2012.03.31
    A group of active regions appear during the rise of solar cycle 25. This is a view from SDO, 171 Angstrom filter.

2011

  • Wispy 'Plasma Dancer' on the limb of the Sun
    2012.05.17
    This movie actually exhibits a number of interesting solar phenomena.

    The primary feature of interest was the whirrling tower of plasma on the lower right limb.

  • Solar Dynamics Observatory - Argo view - Slices of SDO
    2013.12.24
    Argos (or Argus Panoptes) was the 100-eyed giant in Greek mythology (wikipedia).

    While the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) has significantly less than 100 eyes, (see "SDO Jewelbox: The Many Eyes of SDO"), seeing connections in the solar atmosphere through the many filters of SDO presents a number of interesting challenges. This visualization experiment illustrates a mechanism for highlighting these connections.

    This visualization is a variation of the original Solar Dynamics Observatory - Argo view. In this case, the different wavelength filters are presented in three sets around the Sun at full 4Kx4K resolution. This enables monitoring of changes in time over all wavelengths at any location around the limb of the Sun.

    The wavelengths presented are: 617.3nm optical light from SDO/HMI. From SDO/AIA we have 170nm (pink), then 160nm (green), 33.5nm (blue), 30.4nm (orange), 21.1nm (violet), 19.3nm (bronze), 17.1nm (gold), 13.1nm (aqua) and 9.4nm (green).

    We've locked the camera to rotate the view of the Sun so each wedge-shaped wavelength filter passes over a region of the Sun. As the features pass from one wavelength to the next, we can see dramatic differences in solar structures that appear in different wavelengths.

    • Filaments extending off the limb of the Sun which are bright in 30.4 nanometers, appear dark in many other wavelengths.
    • Sunspots which appear dark in optical wavelengths, are festooned with glowing ribbons in ultraviolet wavelengths.
    • small flares, invisible in optical wavelengths, are bright ribbons in ultraviolet wavelengths.
    • if we compare the visible light limb of the Sun with the 170 nanometer filter on the left, with the visible light limb and the 9.4 nanometer filter on the right, we see that the 'edge' is at different heights. This effect is due to the different amounts of absorption, and emission, of the solar atmosphere in ultraviolet light.
    • in far ultraviolet light, the photosphere is dark since the black-body spectrum at a temperature of 5700 Kelvin emits very little light in this wavelength.
  • Solar Dynamics Observatory - Argo view
    2013.12.17
    Argos (or Argus Panoptes) was the 100-eyed giant in Greek mythology (wikipedia).

    While the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) has significantly less than 100 eyes, (see "SDO Jewelbox: The Many Eyes of SDO"), seeing connections in the solar atmosphere through the many filters of SDO presents a number of interesting challenges. This visualization experiment illustrates a mechanism for highlighting these connections.

    The wavelengths presented are: 617.3nm optical light from SDO/HMI. From SDO/AIA we have 170nm (pink), then 160nm (green), 33.5nm (blue), 30.4nm (orange), 21.1nm (violet), 19.3nm (bronze), 17.1nm (gold), 13.1nm (aqua) and 9.4nm (green).

    We've locked the camera to rotate the view of the Sun so each wedge-shaped wavelength filter passes over a region of the Sun. As the features pass from one wavelength to the next, we can see dramatic differences in solar structures that appear in different wavelengths.

    • Filaments extending off the limb of the Sun which are bright in 30.4 nanometers, appear dark in many other wavelengths.
    • Sunspots which appear dark in optical wavelengths, are festooned with glowing ribbons in ultraviolet wavelengths.
    • Small flares, invisible in optical wavelengths, are bright ribbons in ultraviolet wavelengths.
    • If we compare the visible light limb of the Sun with the 170 nanometer filter on the left, with the visible light limb and the 9.4 nanometer filter on the right, we see that the 'edge' is at different heights. This effect is due to the different amounts of absorption, and emission, of the solar atmosphere in ultraviolet light.
    • In far ultraviolet light, the photosphere is dark since the black-body spectrum at a temperature of 5700 Kelvin emits very little light in this wavelength.
  • 'X' Marks the Spot: SDO Observes a Reconnection Event
    2013.07.15
    This is the source data material for the main release of X Marks the Spot: SDO Sees Reconnection.

    Frames were generated using the standard SDO AIA 131 Å color table and an enhanced version to reveal the finer details of the coronal loops, which are overly saturated in the standard color table ranges.

  • Looking Back: The Record Flare for Solar Cycle 24
    2014.05.16
    On August 9, 2011 at 3:48 a.m. EDT, the sun emitted an Earth-directed X6.9 flare, as measured by the NOAA GOES satellite. These gigantic bursts of radiation cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere to harm humans on the ground, however they can disrupt the atmosphere and disrupt GPS and communications signals. In this case, it appears the flare is strong enough to potentially cause some radio communication blackouts. It also produced increased solar energetic proton radiation — enough to affect humans in space if they do not protect themselves. As of March 2014, this flare is the largest of solar cycle 24. Here are the raw images used in creating the components in Sun Unleashes X6.9 Class Flare on August 9, 2011
  • Growing Sunspots - A Full Disk View: February 2011
    2012.01.27
    Here is a leisurely view of SDO/HMI data, sampled every hour, covering two weeks in the middle of February 2011. While the solar disk starts out featureless, eventually small groups of sunspots (the darker regions) emerge, grow, and then rotate out of view.

    For a closeup view of of one of these sunspot groups, see animation 3898, Growing Sunspots - Tracking Closeup: February 2011

  • Incredible Solar Flare, Prominence Eruption and CME Event (SDO/HMI visible light)
    2017.08.20
    On June 7, 2011, an M-2 flare occurred on the Sun which released a very large coronal mass ejection (CME). In this view in visible light seen by the SDO/HMI instrument, we can't even see the event. This view is provided as a comparison to how dramatic the event appears in extreme ultraviolet light, as seen in 3838 (304 Ångstroms), 3839 (171 Ångstroms), and 3840 (211 Ångstroms), near ultraviolet light, 3841 (1700 Ångstroms), presented a much less impressive event.
  • Incredible Solar Flare, Prominence Eruption and CME Event (304 angstroms)
    2011.07.01
    On June 7, 2011, an M-2 flare occurred on the Sun which released a very large coronal mass ejection (CME). Much of the ejected material is much cooler (less than about 80,000K) and therefore appears dark against the brighter solar disk.

    Material which does not reach solar escape velocity can be seen falling back and striking the solar surface, sometimes triggering smaller events.

    This image sequence is captured at one minute intervals and designed to play synchronously with animations 3839 (171 Ångstroms), 3840 (211 Ångstroms) and 3841 (1700 Ångstroms).

  • Incredible Solar Flare, Prominence Eruption and CME Event (171 angstroms)
    2011.07.01
    On June 7, 2011, an M-2 flare occurred on the Sun which released a very large coronal mass ejection (CME). Much of the ejected material is much cooler (less than about 80,000K) and therefore appears dark against the brighter solar disk.

    Material which does not reach solar escape velocity can be seen falling back and striking the solar surface, sometimes triggering smaller events.

    This image sequence is captured at one minute intervals and designed to play synchronously with animations 3838 (304 Ångstroms), 3840 (211 Ångstroms) and 3841 (1700 Ångstroms).

  • Incredible Solar Flare, Prominence Eruption and CME Event (211 angstroms)
    2011.07.01
    On June 7, 2011, an M-2 flare occurred on the Sun which released a very large coronal mass ejection (CME). Much of the ejected material is much cooler (less than about 80,000K) and therefore appears dark against the brighter solar disk.

    Material which does not reach solar escape velocity can be seen falling back and striking the solar surface, sometimes triggering smaller events.

    This image sequence is captured at one minute intervals and designed to play synchronously with animations 3839 (171 Ångstroms), 3838 (304 Ångstroms) and 3841 (1700 Ångstroms).

  • Trebuchet Solar Eruption of February 2011
    2015.02.11
    Revisiting a large solar eruption from 2011, This event is sometimes called the Trebuchet Eruption.
  • Incredible Solar Flare, Prominence Eruption and CME Event (1700 angstroms)
    2011.07.01
    On June 7, 2011, an M-2 flare occurred on the Sun which released a very large coronal mass ejection (CME). At this wavelength, very little of the ejected material is visible. However, it is possible to see locations where some of the material is falling back and striking the solar surface.

    This image sequence is captured at one minute intervals and designed to play synchronously with animations 3839 (171 Ångstroms), 3840 (211 Ångstroms) and 3838 (304 Ångstroms).

  • Solar Dynamics Observatory - Atmospheric Imaging Assembly
    2011.12.07
    The Sun's activity increases as we enter solar cycle 24. But even several years away from the peak, the Sun in ultraviolet light shows a variety of activity.

    This visualization consists of eight hours of SDO AIA imagery from the 30.4 nanometer filter (304 Ångstroms). This sequence plays at the full time cadence of the AIA instrument - one image every twelve seconds of real time - and showing thirty images per second on playback.

  • Survivor 2011: Comet Lovejoy vs. The Sun
    2012.03.31
    Comet Lovejoy makes a close pass to the Sun, and survives.

    The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) is actually repointed to better observe the comet's approach to the Sun.

  • Launching Filament: November 14, 2011
    2012.03.31
    A large filament launches from the Sun in this sequence of 304 Ångstrom imagery from Solar Dynamics Observatory.
  • A Comet's Demise: July 6, 2011
    2012.03.31
    A small comet evaporates away in its flyby of the Sun.
  • July 12, 2011: A Bright Limb Prominence from Solar Dynamics Observatory
    2015.03.03
    A large prominence launches, then hovers briefly, on the solar limb (upper left). The lofted solar plasma is seen traveling back down along the magnetic field. This view is through the AIA 304 Ångstrom filter.
  • Solar Flare from SDO, April 2011 (AIA 94 Å)
    2012.08.24
    The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) observed a large solar flare in April 2011.

    This visualization was generated using quick-look time resolution (36 seconds) data from the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA). Two datasets are used, the SDO/AIA 94 Ångstrom wavelength (green color table). This wavelength is in the ultraviolet band of the electromagnetic spectrum. It is not visible to the human eye or to ground-based telescopes so coded colors are used in presentation.

    It is the source material for "SDO Year 2 video".

  • The Active Sun from SDO: 94 Ångstroms
    2012.11.20
    The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) observes the Sun with many different instruments, in many different wavelengths of light. Many of these capabilities are not possible for ground-based observatories - hence the need for a space-based observing platform.

    This movie is generated for a wavelength of 94 Ångstroms (9.4 nanometers) which highlights a spectral line emitted by iron atoms that have lost 17 electrons (also known as iron-18 or Fe XVIII) at temperatures of 6,000,000 K. Temperatures like this represent regions of the corona during a solar flare.

    This visualization is one of a set of visualizations (others linked below) covering the same time span of 17 hours over the full wavelength range of the instruments. They are setup to play synchronously on a Hyperwall, or can be run individually.

    The images are sampled every 36 seconds, 1/3 of the standard 12 second time-cadence for SDO. This visualization is useful for illustrating how different solar phenomena, such as sunspots and active regions, look very different in different wavelengths of light. These differences enable scientists to study them more completely, with an eventual goal of improving Space Weather forecasting.

  • The Active Sun from SDO: 131 Ångstroms
    2012.11.20
    The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) observes the Sun with many different instruments, in many different wavelengths of light. Many of these capabilities are not possible for ground-based observatories - hence the need for a space-based observing platform.

    This movie is generated for a wavelength of 131 Ångstroms (13.1 nanometers) which highlights a spectral line emitted by iron atoms that have lost 19 and 22 electrons (also known as iron-20 or Fe XX; and iron-23 or FeXXIII) at temperatures of 10,000,000 K. Temperatures like this represent material in a solar flare.

    This visualization is one of a set of visualizations (others linked below) covering the same time span of 17 hours over the full wavelength range of the mission. They are setup to play synchronously on a Hyperwall, or can be run individually.

    The images are sampled every 36 seconds, 1/3 of the standard time-cadence for SDO. This visualization is useful for illustrating how different solar phenomena, such as sunspots and active regions, look very different in different wavelengths of light. These differences enable scientists to study them more completely, with an eventual goal of improving Space Weather forecasting.

  • The Active Sun from SDO: 171 Ångstroms
    2012.11.20
    The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) observes the Sun with many different instruments, in many different wavelengths of light. Many of these capabilities are not possible for ground-based observatories - hence the need for a space-based observing platform.

    This movie is generated for a wavelength of 171 Ångstroms (17.1 nanometers) which highlights a spectral line emitted by iron atoms that have lost 8 electrons (also known as iron-9 or Fe IX) at temperatures of 600,000 K. Temperatures like this show the quiet corona and magnetic structures like coronal loops.

    This visualization is one of a set of visualizations (others linked below) covering the same time span of 17 hours over the full wavelength range of the mission. They are setup to play synchronously on a Hyperwall, or can be run individually.

    The images are sampled every 36 seconds, 1/3 of the standard time-cadence for SDO. This visualization is useful for illustrating how different solar phenomena, such as sunspots and active regions, look very different in different wavelengths of light. These differences enable scientists to study them more completely, with an eventual goal of improving Space Weather forecasting.

  • The Active Sun from SDO: 193 Ångstroms
    2012.11.20
    The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) observes the Sun with many different instruments, in many different wavelengths of light. Many of these capabilities are not possible for ground-based observatories - hence the need for a space-based observing platform.

    This movie is generated for a wavelength of 193 Ångstroms (19.3 nanometers) which highlights a spectral line emitted by iron atoms that have lost 11 electrons (also known as iron-12 or Fe XII) at temperatures of 1,000,000 K as well as iron atoms that have lost 23 electrons (also known as iron-24 or FeXXIV) at temperatures of 20,000,000K. The former represents a slightly higher region of the corona and the latter represents the much hotter material of a solar flare. This wavelength also makes coronal holes (which appear as dark regions near the solar surface) more visible.

    This visualization is one of a set of visualizations (others linked below) covering the same time span of 17 hours over the full wavelength range of the mission. They are setup to play synchronously on a Hyperwall, or can be run individually.

    The images are sampled every 36 seconds, 1/3 of the standard time-cadence for SDO. This visualization is useful for illustrating how different solar phenomena, such as sunspots and active regions, look very different in different wavelengths of light. These differences enable scientists to study them more completely, with an eventual goal of improving Space Weather forecasting.

  • The Active Sun from SDO: 211 Ångstroms
    2012.11.20
    The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) observes the Sun with many different instruments, in many different wavelengths of light. Many of these capabilities are not possible for ground-based observatories - hence the need for a space-based observing platform.

    This movie is generated for a wavelength of 211 Ångstroms (21.1 nanometers) which highlights a spectral line emitted by iron atoms that have lost 13 electrons (also known as iron-14 or Fe XIV) at temperatures of 2,000,000 K. These images show hotter, active regions in the sun's corona.

    This visualization is one of a set of visualizations (others linked below) covering the same time span of 17 hours over the full wavelength range of the mission. They are setup to play synchronously on a Hyperwall, or can be run individually.

    The images are sampled every 36 seconds, 1/3 of the standard time-cadence for SDO. This visualization is useful for illustrating how different solar phenomena, such as sunspots and active regions, look very different in different wavelengths of light. These differences enable scientists to study them more completely, with an eventual goal of improving Space Weather forecasting.

  • The Active Sun from SDO: 304 Ångstroms
    2012.11.20
    The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) observes the Sun with many different instruments, in many different wavelengths of light. Many of these capabilities are not possible for ground-based observatories - hence the need for a space-based observing platform.

    This movie is generated for a wavelength of 304 Ångstroms (30.4 nanometers) which highlights a spectral line emitted by helium atoms that have lost 1 electron (also known as helium-2 or He II) at temperatures of 50,000 K. This light is emitted from the upper transition region and the chromosphere. Solar prominences are readily visible at this wavelength.

    This visualization is one of a set of visualizations (others linked below) covering the same time span of 17 hours over the full wavelength range of the mission. They are setup to play synchronously on a Hyperwall, or can be run individually.

    The images are sampled every 36 seconds, 1/3 of the standard time-cadence for SDO. This visualization is useful for illustrating how different solar phenomena, such as sunspots and active regions, look very different in different wavelengths of light. These differences enable scientists to study them more completely, with an eventual goal of improving Space Weather forecasting.

  • The Active Sun from SDO: 335 Ångstroms
    2012.11.20
    The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) observes the Sun with many different instruments, in many different wavelengths of light. Many of these capabilities are not possible for ground-based observatories - hence the need for a space-based observing platform.

    This movie is generated for a wavelength of 335 Ångstroms (33.5 nanometers) which highlights a spectral line of iron that has lost 15 electrons (also known as iron-16 or Fe XVI) at temperatures of 2,500,000 K. These images show active regions in the corona.

    This visualization is one of a set of visualizations (others linked below) covering the same time span of 17 hours over the full wavelength range of the mission. They are setup to play synchronously on a Hyperwall, or can be run individually.

    The images are sampled every 36 seconds, 1/3 of the standard time-cadence for SDO. This visualization is useful for illustrating how different solar phenomena, such as sunspots and active regions, look very different in different wavelengths of light. These differences enable scientists to study them more completely, with an eventual goal of improving Space Weather forecasting.

  • The Active Sun from SDO: 1600 Ångstroms
    2012.11.20
    The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) observes the Sun with many different instruments, in many different wavelengths of light. Many of these capabilities are not possible for ground-based observatories - hence the need for a space-based observing platform.

    This movie is generated for a wavelength of 1600 Ångstroms (160.0 nanometers) which highlights a spectral line of carbon that has lost 3 electrons (also known as carbon-4 or C-IV) at temperatures of 10,000 K. C IV at these temperatures is present in what's called the transition region between the sun's surface and the lowest levels of the sun's atmosphere, the chromosphere.

    This visualization is one of a set of visualizations (others linked below) covering the same time span of 17 hours over the full wavelength range of the mission. They are setup to play synchronously on a Hyperwall, or can be run individually.

    The images are sampled every 36 seconds, 1/3 of the standard time-cadence for SDO. This visualization is useful for illustrating how different solar phenomena, such as sunspots and active regions, look very different in different wavelengths of light. These differences enable scientists to study them more completely, with an eventual goal of improving Space Weather forecasting.

  • The Active Sun from SDO: 1700 Ångstroms
    2012.11.20
    The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) observes the Sun with many different instruments, in many different wavelengths of light. Many of these capabilities are not possible for ground-based observatories - hence the need for a space-based observing platform.

    This movie is generated for a wavelength of 1700 Ånstroms (170.0 nanometers) which is in the ultraviolet band showing the lower level of the Sun's atmosphere, called the chromosphere.

    This visualization is one of a set of visualizations (others linked below) covering the same time span of 17 hours over the full wavelength range of the mission. They are setup to play synchronously on a Hyperwall, or can be run individually.

    The images are sampled every 36 seconds, 1/3 of the standard time-cadence for SDO. This visualization is useful for illustrating how different solar phenomena, such as sunspots and active regions, look very different in different wavelengths of light. These differences enable scientists to study them more completely, with an eventual goal of improving Space Weather forecasting.

  • The Active Sun from SDO: 4500 Ångstroms
    2012.11.20
    The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) observes the Sun with many different instruments, in many different wavelengths of light. Many of these capabilities are not possible for ground-based observatories - hence the need for a space-based observing platform.

    This movie is generated for a wavelength of 4500 Ångstroms (450.0 nanometers) which corresponds to visible light, showing the Sun's visible surface, or photosphere. This wavelength can also be seen from the surface of the Earth, though not with the clarity possible from SDO. The dark regions on the left side are sunspots (Wikipedia) - essentially magnetic storms in the photosphere.

    This visualization is one of a set of visualizations (others linked below) covering the same time span of 17 hours over the full wavelength range of the mission. They are setup to play synchronously on a Hyperwall, or can be run individually.

    The images are sampled every 36 seconds, 1/3 of the standard time-cadence for SDO. This visualization is useful for illustrating how different solar phenomena, such as sunspots and active regions, look very different in different wavelengths of light. These differences enable scientists to study them more completely, with an eventual goal of improving Space Weather forecasting.

  • The Active Sun from SDO: HMI Magnetogram
    2012.11.20
    The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) observes the Sun with many different instruments, in many different wavelengths of light. Many of these capabilities are not possible for ground-based observatories - hence the need for a space-based observing platform.

    The Helioseismic Magnetic Imager (HMI) aboard the Solar Dynamics Observatory takes a series of images every 45 seconds in a very narrow range of wavelengths in visible light of the solar photosphere. The wavelengths correspond to a region around the 6173 Ångstroms (617.3 nanometers) spectral line of neutral iron (Fe I). From this series of images, it constructs a set of images which extract other characteristics of the photosphere. For this dataset, it measures the splitting of the spectral lines to determine the intensity of the magnetic field on the solar surface. White represents north magnetic polarity and black represents south magnetic polarity.

    This visualization is one of a set of visualizations (others linked below) covering the same time span of 17 hours over the full wavelength range of the mission. They are setup to play synchronously on a Hyperwall, or can be run individually.

    The images are sampled every 36 seconds, 1/3 of the standard time-cadence for SDO. This visualization is useful for illustrating how different solar phenomena, such as sunspots and active regions, look very different in different wavelengths of light. These differences enable scientists to study them more completely, with an eventual goal of improving Space Weather forecasting.

  • The Active Sun from SDO: HMI Dopplergram
    2012.11.20
    The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) observes the Sun with many different instruments, in many different wavelengths of light. Many of these capabilities are not possible for ground-based observatories - hence the need for a space-based observing platform.

    The Helioseismic Magnetic Imager (HMI) aboard the Solar Dynamics Observatory takes a series of images every 45 seconds in a very narrow range of wavelengths in visible light of the solar photosphere. The wavelengths correspond to a region around the 6173 Ångstroms (617.3 nanometers) spectral line of neutral iron (Fe I). From this series of images, it constructs a set of images which extract other characteristics of the photosphere. For this dataset, it measures the shifting of the spectral lines to determine the velocity of gas flows on the solar surface. This spectral line shift is due to the Doppler effect (Wikipedia). Blue represents motion towards the observer. Red indicates motion away from the observer.

    For the images below, the color is dominated by the solar rotation, so the solar limb on the right is moving away from us (and therefore red) while the left limb is moving towards us (and therefore blue). Motions on the solar surface generate the rippling in the color and you can see evidence of surface flows around the sunspot near the left limb.

    This visualization is one of a set of visualizations (others linked below) covering the same time span of 17 hours over the full wavelength range of the mission. They are setup to play synchronously on a Hyperwall, or can be run individually.

    The images are sampled every 36 seconds, 1/3 of the standard time-cadence for SDO. This visualization is useful for illustrating how different solar phenomena, such as sunspots and active regions, look very different in different wavelengths of light. These differences enable scientists to study them more completely, with an eventual goal of improving Space Weather forecasting.

  • The Active Sun from SDO: HMI Intensity
    2012.11.20

    The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) observes the Sun with many different instruments, in many different wavelengths of light. Many of these capabilities are not possible for ground-based observatories - hence the need for a space-based observing platform.

    The Helioseismic Magnetic Imager (HMI) aboard the Solar Dynamics Observatory takes a series of images every 45 seconds in a very narrow range of wavelengths in visible light of the solar photosphere. The wavelengths correspond to a region around the 6173 Ångstroms (617.3 nanometers) spectral line of neutral iron (Fe I). From this series of images, it constructs a set of images which extract other characteristics of the photosphere. For this dataset, it shows the solar photosphere in visible light.

    This visualization is one of a set of visualizations (others linked below) covering the same time span of 17 hours over the full wavelength range of the mission. They are setup to play synchronously on a Hyperwall, or can be run individually.

    The images are sampled every 36 seconds, 1/3 of the standard time-cadence for SDO. This visualization is useful for illustrating how different solar phenomena, such as sunspots and active regions, look very different in different wavelengths of light. These differences enable scientists to study them more completely, with an eventual goal of improving Space Weather forecasting.

2010

  • Impressionist Sun: SDO Source Images
    2012.07.20
    A set of multi-wavelength views of the Sun from SDO provided source and context imagery for the Van Gogh Sun video. This video illustrates how imagery is converted into physical parameters teaching us more about the physical processes taking place in the solar atmosphere.
  • Lunar Transit from Solar Dynamics Observatory (2010)
    2013.06.12

    Just as we do on Earth, the Solar Dynamics Observatory satellite periodically crosses the Moon's shadow and experiences a solar eclipse. During the eclipse witnessed by SDO on October 7, 2010, the southern hemisphere of the Moon was silhouetted against the solar disk, revealing some especially prominent mountain peaks near the Moon's south pole. By using elevation data from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to visualize the Moon from SDO's point of view, it's possible to identify these peaks. Although all of these are well-known features, none of them have official names. The following list corresponds to the labels in the animation, from left to right.

    1. In his 1954 sketch of the lunar south pole, astronomer Ewen Whitaker labeled this feature "M3." It's a mountain about halfway between the craters Cabeus and Drygalski, at 83.2°S 68°W.
    2. Whitaker's "M1," a mountain on the northern rim of Cabeus, 83.4°S 33°W.
    3. A mountain on the southern rim of Malapert crater, about halfway between the centers of Malapert and Haworth. Whitaker labels this Malapert Alpha. It's also known as Mons Malapert or Malapert Peak. 85.8°S 0°E.
    4. Labeled Leibnitz Beta by Whitaker, this is part of the highlands adjacent to the northern rim of Nobile crater. 84°S 37°E. Part of the Leibnitz mountain range first identified by Johann Schröter in the late 1700s, unrelated to Leibnitz Crater on the lunar far side.
    5. A mountain near Amundsen crater, on the western (Earthward) rim of Hédervári crater, 82.2°S 75°E. Whitaker tentatively labels this Leibnitz Epsilon in his sketch.

    The Moon visualization uses the latest albedo and elevation maps from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO).