Yeah, there’s a but on the video. The sun isn’t somersaulting through space. If it was, can we claim it for the gymnastics team for Rio? Even the Russian judge would have to agree that’s never been done before.
What’s happening in the video? The full-day of image capturing also grabs the SDO spinning 360-degrees on one axis. While it’s chaos on the sun, our star isn’t sitting in space turning flips.
The Solar Dynamic Observatory performs the maneuver twice a year to measure the edge of the sun accurately. And in the time-lapse we are seeing some post-processing work by the folks at NASA. The SDO images are in the extreme ultraviolet wavelength, so NASA colorized it to create the video.
Solar Dynamics Observatory Mission
It’s not for cool images only, though that would be enough for me. The SDO is doing hard science, measuring the variations in the solar limb over time. Scientists pour over the data to understand how the shape of the sun alters during the 11-year solar cycle.
SDO’s goal is to understand, driving towards a predictive capability, the solar variations that influence life on Earth and humanity’s technological systems by determining how the Sun’s magnetic field is generated and structured.
And how this stored magnetic energy is converted and released into the heliosphere and geospace in the form of solar wind, energetic particles, and variations in the solar irradiance.
Of course, the spectacular images don’t hurt its cause. Here’s a picture of arcing loops caught during a period of solar activity on June 26-27, 2016: