Seven years of Solar Dynamics

It seems like only yesterday that I was noting First Light on Nasa’s Solar Dynamics Observatory [SDO], and the early hours of this morning for ‘three years in three minutes‘ and ‘SDO Year 4‘.  In fact the SDO was launched on 11 Feb 2010, with First Light in April of that year. [Seven long years… – Ed]  Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Centre have produced a short [3 min 22 sec] video marking the solar sunspot cycle during that time. [Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/SDO.]

From the accompanying text.

The Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, has now captured nearly seven years worth of ultra-high resolution solar footage. This time lapse shows that full run from two of SDO’s instruments. The large orange sun is visible light captured by the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager, or HMI. The smaller golden sun is extreme ultraviolet light from the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly, or AIA, and reveals some of the sun’s atmosphere, the corona. Both appear at one frame every 12 hours. SDO’s nearly unbroken run is now long enough to watch the rise and fall of the current solar cycle. The graph of solar activity shows the sunspot number, a measurement based on the number of individual spots and the number of sunspot groups. In this case, the line represents a smoothed 26-day average to more clearly show the overall trend.

Music: “Web of Intrigue” from Killer Tracks

SDO recently observed this stunning return of a substantial coronal hole on the face of the sun (Jan. 30 – Feb. 2, 2017).  [Credit: Solar Dynamics Observatory, NASA.]


From the accompanying text.

A substantial coronal hole rotated across the face of the sun this past week and is again streaming solar wind towards Earth (Jan. 30 – Feb. 2, 2017). This same coronal hole was facing Earth about a month ago and has rotated into a similar position again (see our Gallery entry for this here). Coronal holes are areas of open magnetic field from which solar wind particles stream into space. In this wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light it appears as a dark area near the center and lower portion of the sun.

Here’s an even shorter, 20 seconds, video of the coronal hole observation.

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