Great Ball of Fire: The Breathtaking Picture that Reveals a Year in the Life of the Sun

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Nasa has unveiled a breathtaking image that shows a year in the life of the sun – and a video that condenses three years of activity on the solar surface into three minutes.

It reveals solar flares and coronal mass ejections caught in the act in unprecedented detail.

The images from Nasa’s Solar Dynamics Observatory also reveal space weather that can send radiation and solar material toward Earth and interfere with satellites in space.

A composite of 25 separate images spanning the period of April 16, 2012 to April 15, 2013, revealing the zones on the sun where active regions are most common during this part of the solar cycle

In the three years since it first provided images of the sun in the spring of 2010, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) has had virtually unbroken coverage of the sun’s rise toward solar maximum, the peak of solar activity in its regular 11-year cycle.

The image above and video below video shows those three years of the sun at a pace of two images per day. Each image is displayed for two frames at a 29.97 frame rate.

The 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.

In this wavelength it is easy to see the sun’s 25-day rotation as well as how solar activity has increased over three years.

June 2, 2010 to April 15, 2013 at a cadence of two frames per day, or one frame every 12 hours. The images were captured at 171 Angstrom light, which highlights material around 600,000 Kelvin and shows features in the upper transition region and quiet corona of the sun. The still image shows a partial eclipse of the sun by the moon from SDO’s perspective.

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