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NASA Releases Ultra-HD Video of the Sun

November 4, 2015 | Gillian Burrell

Photo credit: NASA/Youtube

You can now see footage from the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) that is nearly as high quality as an IMAX film.

*In order to appreciate the video fully, change the settings to 4K (ultra-high definition). Depending on your internet connection, you may need to buffer for a long time!

The SDO, which was launched on February 11, 2010, is a spacecraft whose sole purpose is to observe the sun. As the primary instrument used by NASA's Living with a Star program, SDO watches the sun 24/7, taking photos in unprecedented detail. 

What makes SDO such a powerful tool is that it records footage of the sun in a much higher resolution and framerate than previous technologies. While our old cameras took a snapshot of the sun every 3 minutes, SDO takes a photo every ten seconds so scientists won't miss any action. Each photo contains over 16 million pixels, making the video almost as clear as an IMAX movie!

SEE ALSO: Solar Storm Forecasts Prevent Tech Damage

The images SDO provides are also more comprehensive than previous devices. Because its two imaging devices capture 13 different wavelengths of light, SDO can highlight different depths of the sun's atmosphere from the hot solar surface to the cooler upper reaches of the sun's corona.

Monitoring the sun's activity is one of NASA's most crucial responsibilities because it directly affects life on Earth. Although the sun seems like a constant presence of our lives, in fact it's highly temperamental and its little outbursts cause something scientists like to call space weather. Space weather is the result of the sun's rapidly changing magnetic field which attracts and repels its corona (its outer layer) — we see these events as sunspots, solar flares, and solar wind. Despite the great distance between us and the sun, those weather events can disrupt technology, cause outages in radio communications, affect satellites orbiting Earth, and cause the Northern Lights (or Aurora Borealis).

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