Sun

The sun as you've never seen it before

Eruptions on the sun's surface can blast tons of plasma into space -- sometimes right at the Earth. Astonishing pictures show the giant flares and clouds of ionized gas erupting from the star.

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May 12, 2013: This blend of two images taken by NASAs Solar Dynamics Observatory shows a solar eruption. One image shows light in the 171-angstrom wavelength, the other in 131 angstroms. Scientists say the Mothers Day solar flare was the strongest of the year and occurred on the side of the sun that faced away from Earth. Read more

AP Photo/NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory

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This full-disk view of the sun was captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory on April 11, 2013, during the second strongest solar flare of 2013.

NASA/SDO

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NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory satellite captured this photo of an X-class solar flare unleashed from the sun Oct. 22, 2012. Read more

SDO/NASA

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July 12, 2012: An X-1.4 class flare erupted from the center of the sun, the second major solar storm to erupt from our star in less than a week. Read more

NASA/SDO/AIA

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Jan. 19, 2012: A powerful M2-class solar flare erupts from the sun in this image from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory.
NASA/SDO

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March 6, 2012: NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captures the sun as it unleashed an X5.4-class solar flare -- the bright spot in the upper left. Read more

NASA/SD

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NASA's SDO spacecraft caught this image of an X-class solar flare on March 7, 2012.
NASA/SDO

Sun Waking Up

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory snapped this X-ray photo of the Sun early in the morning of Sunday, August 1st. The dark arc near the top right edge of the image is a filament of plasma blasting off the surface -- part of the coronal mass ejection. The bright region is an unassociated solar flare. When particles from the eruption reached the Earth, they triggered a brilliant auroral display known as the Northern Lights.

NASA

Here Comes the Sun

An extreme ultraviolet image of the sun taken by Space Dynamics Observatory on March 30, 2010. Reds are relatively cool (about 107,540 Fahrenheit); blues and greens are hotter (greater than 1.8 million Fahrenheit). Click here to see the hi-resolution image from NASA.

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

Solar Prominence

An image of the sun moments before a twisting solar prominence erupts on March 30, 2010. Images and videos taken by the SDO give evidence of the dynamic sun never before seen by NASA's scientists. Click here to see the full video from NASA.

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

Solar Prominence

An image of a twisting solar prominence eruption taken on March 30, 2010. Images and videos taken by the SDO give evidence of the dynamic sun never before seen by NASA's scientists. Click here to see the full video from NASA.

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

Solar Prominence

Launched on Feb. 11, 2010, the SDO is the most advanced spacecraft ever designed to study the sun. During its five-year mission, it will examine the sun's magnetic field and also provide a better understanding of the role the sun plays in Earth's atmospheric chemistry and climate.

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

Solar Prominence

SDO will determine how the sun's magnetic field is generated, structured and converted into violent solar events such as turbulent solar wind, solar flares and coronal mass ejections. These immense clouds of material, when directed toward Earth, can cause large magnetic storms in our planet’s magnetosphere and upper atmosphere.

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

Early Images

One of the first images captured by the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly. After the devices used to translate the light cast off by the sun cooled down, this image was taken of a solar eruption on March 30, one of the first visible events. Click here to see the full video from NASA.

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

Blue Sun

One of the first images captured by the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly. After the devices used to translate the light cast off by the sun cooled down, this image was taken of a solar eruption on March 30, one of the first visible events. Click here to see the full video from NASA.

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

Atmospheric Imaging Assembly

This image is part a series from the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly showing regions of heating and cooling, ranging in temperature from about 1.8 million degrees Fahrenheit to 4.7 million degrees Fahrenheit.

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

View of the Sun

The Solar Dynamics Observatory that captured all of these photos is the first mission to be launched for NASA's Living With a Star Program, a program designed to understand the causes of solar variability and its impacts on Earth. SDO is designed to help us understand the Sun's influence on Earth by studying the solar atmosphere.

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

Prominence From Afar

SDO will study how solar activity is created and how space weather comes from that activity. It takes measurements of the interior of the Sun, the Sun's magnetic field, the hot plasma of the solar corona -- which often shoots out in prominences such as this one -- and the irradiance that creates the ionospheres of the planets.

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

Heating and Cooling

An extreme ultraviolet image of the sun taken by the SDO satellite on March 30 shows areas of heating and cooling on the sun. Reds are relatively cool (about 107,540 Fahrenheit); blues and greens are hotter (greater than 1.8 million Fahrenheit). 

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

Heating and Cooling

An extreme ultraviolet image of the sun taken by the SDO satellite on March 30 shows areas of heating and cooling on the sun. Reds are relatively cool (about 107,540 Fahrenheit); blues and greens are hotter (greater than 1.8 million Fahrenheit). 

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

Cool Sun

Richard Fisher, director of the Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said the new satellite shows a view of the sun he hasn't seen in over 40 years of research. "SDO will change our understanding of the sun and its processes, which affect our lives and society. This mission will have a huge impact on science, similar to the impact of the Hubble Space Telescope on modern astrophysics.”

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

Hot Sun

Space weather has been recognized as a cause of technological problems since the invention of the telegraph in the 19th century. These events produce disturbances in electromagnetic fields on Earth that can induce extreme currents in wires, disrupting power lines and causing widespread blackouts. And SDO can help measure those disturbances far more accurately than ever before.

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

The sun as you've never seen it before

Eruptions on the sun's surface can blast tons of plasma into space -- sometimes right at the Earth. Astonishing pictures show the giant flares and clouds of ionized gas erupting from the star.

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