This week, the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) celebrated its sixth year in space. No longer a wide-eyed noob when it comes to staring down the Sun, the satellite has yielded fascinating discoveries and gorgeous visuals of our beloved parent star since it set up shop in geostationary orbit on February 11, 2010.
To mark the occasion, the SDO team released this captivating year-long timelapse of the Sun, which squeezes the period between January 1, 2015 and January 29, 2016 into a brief six minutes.
Each frame of the short is equal to two hours of SDO data, with one second amounting to about two and a half days of observation. Behold, the majesty of this dynamic fusion-ball we orbit:
That’s some mesmerizing solar artwork. As one commenter put it, “this was like watching 6 minutes of Hypnotoad @_@ .”
Indeed, part of what makes the video so gripping is the fact that the Sun is displayed at an extreme ultraviolet wavelength, which highlights activity at searing temperatures of roughly 600,000 kelvins (or 1,079,540 degrees F). This perspective on our star also reveals some of the complex magnetic loops that crop up on at its surface, along with flares and coronal mass ejections—which are the Sun’s riff on projectile vomiting.
For a more holistic view, here’s an older video that superimposes all of the SDO’s wavelength filters over the Sun.
For six years, this satellite has allowed us to witness the Sun without having to worry about burning out our retinas. So happy anniversary, SDO, and here’s to a stellar seventh year.