#1 - First Light Prominence |
Soon after the instruments opened their doors, the Sun began performing for SDO with this beautiful prominence eruption. This AIA data is from March 30, 2010, showing a wavelength band that is centered around 304 Å. This extreme ultraviolet emission line is from singly ionized Helium, or He II, and corresponds to a temperature of about 50,000 degrees Celsius.
#2 - Plasma Rain |
On April 19, 2010 AIA observed one of the largest prominence eruptions in years. The huge structure erupts, but a great deal of the plasma (hundreds of millions of tons) is unable to escape the gravitational pull of the Sun and falls back down as "plasma rain." As the rain impacts the surface, bright flashes can be seen as the momentum is absorbed on impact. SDO is the first observatory to capture both the rain and the impacts in 304 Å, allowing us to learn a great deal from observations like this.
#3 - Seven Months |
This multi-wavelength (211, 193, and 171 Å) movie of the Sun covers seven months of activity (April 25 - Nov. 30, 2011). The frames combine images taken at the same time in three wavelengths of extreme ultraviolet light. The movie shows about 6 frames per day.
#4 - Swirling Maelstrom |
Swirling plasma observed in extreme ultraviolet light (304 Å) put on quite a show over 4.5 days (Sept. 18-22, 2010). The twisting strands of plasma, seen in profile over the Sun upper left edge, kept up its dynamic activity the whole period. In addition, four prominence eruptions occurred during the same period. The slight, occasional jumps of the Sun were due to the daily orbital passage of the spacecraft these days behind the Earth for a short period each day. It took the imaging a little time to get back to normal each passage.
#5 - Merging Sunspots |
One core area of Sunspot 1117 emerged, and then edged over and merged with another core area over three days (Oct. 25-27, 2010) to form a much larger, active sunspot region. Portions of sunspot groups can shift over time. Each dark umbra (darkest area) in the October 26, 2010 snapshot from the HMI instrument on SDO is as wide as Earth. The magnetic field of this area has been creating a number of small (B- and C-class) solar flares, though no large flares have erupted there to date. Sunspots are cooler, darker areas on the Sun's surface where energy and light are suppressed by intense magnetic forces.
#6 - Snake Filament Eruption |
A very long solar filament that had been snaking around the Sun erupted on Dec. 6, 2010 with a flourish. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) caught the action in dramatic detail in extreme ultraviolet light of Helium, 304 Å. It had been almost a million km long (about half the radius of the Sun) and a prominent feature on the Sun visible over two weeks ago before it rotated out of view. Filaments are elongated clouds of cooler gases suspended above the Sun by magnetic forces. They are rather unstable and often break away from the Sun.
#7 - Monster Prominence |
When a rather large-sized (M 3.6 class) flare occurred near the edge of the Sun, it blew out a gorgeous, waving mass of erupting plasma that swirled and twisted over a 90-minute period (Feb. 24, 2011). This event was captured in extreme ultraviolet light at 304 Å. Some of the material blew out into space and other portions fell back to the surface.
#8 - Valentines Day X2 Flare |
Active region 1158 let loose with an X2.2 flare at 0153 UT or 8:50 pm ET on February 15, 2011, the largest flare since Dec. 2006 and the biggest flare so far in Solar Cycle 24. This video was taken in the extreme ultraviolet wavelength of 304 Å. A coronal mass ejection was also associated with the flare. The movie shows activity over about two days (Feb. 13-15, 2011).
#9 - Lotsa Loops |
As an active region rotated into view, SDO got a good profile look at the constantly changing magnetic field lines arcing high above it (Feb. 23-27, 2011). In extreme ultraviolet light the multitude of lines are revealed because charged particles are spinning along them. The interactions seen here are within an extensive and busy action region. If you watch the clip closely, you can see an eruptive blast (along with a strong flare) from the leading region near the beginning of the clip.
#10 - Popping All Over |
With numerous active regions populating the Sun's surface, it is no surprise that over about two days (Mar. 6-8, 2011) SDO saw flares and coronal mass ejections popping off in many directions. The movies were taken in ultraviolet light at 171 Å in temperatures approx. 630,000 degrees Celsius. Besides the many storms, the Sun was alive with arcing loops revealing magnetic field lines interacting above the active regions.