5 beautiful photos from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory

The moon moves between the observatory and the sun, giving it a view of a partial solar eclipse. Such a lunar transit happens two to three times each year. This one lasted two and a half hours, which is the longest ever recorded. (SDO/NASA via Reuters)

If you’re looking for incredible images from space, bet on NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. The 6,800-pound spacecraft gathers as much as 1.4 terabytes of data a day, as it takes a photo every 0.75 of a second. With all those images there are bound to be some mind-blowing gems. It was launched in 2010 with expected costs of $850 million and should last five years. So count on seeing more incredible photos.

Here’s a false-color composite image from a blast of activity originating from an active sunspot region at the center of the sun’s disk. The sun erupted with a powerful X1.2-class solar flare earlier this month. (SDO/NASA via AFP)

This image shows the conditions of the quiet corona and upper transition region of the Sun in December 2013. (SDO/NASA via AFP)

Here we see a magnetic filament of solar material erupting on the sun. The 200,000-mile long filament ripped through the sun’s atmosphere, the corona, leaving behind what looks like a canyon of fire. The glowing canyon traces the channel where magnetic fields held the filament aloft before the explosion. The sun is not made of fire, but plasma: particles so hot that their electrons have boiled off, creating a charged gas that is interwoven with magnetic fields. (NASA)

A solar flare, left, is pictured erupting from the sun. (NASA via Reuters)
Matt McFarland is the editor of Innovations. He's always looking for the next big thing. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook.
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Matt McFarland · January 31, 2014