Three years of the Sun in three minutes

Spectacular three year time lapse video from the Solar Dynamics Observatory

composite SDO image of sun from April 2012-April 2013

This image is a composite of 25 separate images spanning the period of April 16, 2012, to April 15, 2013. It uses the SDO AIA wavelength of 171 angstroms and reveals the zones on the sun where active regions are most common during this part of the solar cycle. Credit: NASA/SDO/AIA/S. Wiessinger

In the three years since it first provided images of the sun in the spring of 2010, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) has had virtually unbroken coverage of the sun’s rise toward solar maximum, the peak of solar activity in its regular 11-year cycle. This video shows those three years of the sun at a pace of two images per day.

SDO’s Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) captures a shot of the sun every 12 seconds in 10 different wavelengths. The images shown here are based on a wavelength of 171 Angstroms, which is in the extreme ultraviolet range and shows solar material at around 600,000 Kelvin. In this wavelength it is easy to see the sun’s 25-day rotation as well as how solar activity has increased over three years.

During the course of the video, the sun subtly increases and decreases in apparent size. This is because the distance between the SDO spacecraft and the sun varies over time. The image is, however, remarkably consistent and stable despite the fact that SDO orbits the Earth at 6,876 miles per hour and the Earth orbits the sun at 67,062 miles per hour.

Such stability is crucial for scientists, who use SDO to learn more about our closest star. These images have regularly caught solar flares and coronal mass ejections in the act, types of space weather that can send radiation and solar material toward Earth and interfere with satellites in space. SDO’s glimpses into the violent dance on the sun help scientists understand what causes these giant explosions — with the hopes of some day improving our ability to predict this space weather.

There are several noteworthy events that appear briefly in this video. They include the two partial eclipses of the sun by the moon, two roll maneuvers, the largest flare of this solar cycle, comet Lovejoy, and the transit of Venus. The specific time for each event is listed below, but a sharp-eyed observer may see some while the video is playing.

00:30;24 Partial eclipse by the moon

00:31;16 Roll maneuver

01:11;02 August 9, 2011 X6.9 Flare, currently the largest of this solar cycle

01:28;07 Comet Lovejoy, December 15, 2011

01:42;29 Roll Maneuver

01:51;07 Transit of Venus, June 5, 2012

02:28;13 Partial eclipse by the moon

More information about this video, as well as full HD version of all four wavelengths and print-resolution stills are public domain and can be viewed and downloaded at: http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a010000/…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piuKlpJmjfg

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Here is another one at less break-neck spin

(good to watch at full screen in a darken room)

I am sure some astrophysicist can easily explain this to me. But I was fascinated by the sun spots and eruptions on the Sun over the 3 years. Virtually none at the poles, and very few on the equator. But almost all on the Tropic of Cancer or Capricorn (if thought of in terms of the Earth). It seems to mirror the tropical storms of Earth in where they are located.

adrian smits

Is it just me or does the sun look like there is a leveling of of the solar flair activity up there? Maybe even a bit of slowing over the past 3 or 4 months? I’m scrolling back and forth and that is my impression.

ducdorleans

@ vukcevic …
is this real, or some computer generated thingie ?

Kasuha

It’s hard to see smaller changes if the main motion is the sun’s rotation. It would be nice if they were able to re-animate it as if it was taken from a “heliosynchronous” orbit, then it would be possible to track real changes.

I did not know that the sun rotates. It seems to rotate about 48 times during this video which means it takes around 22 days to rotate.

Gary Meyers in Ridgecrest, CA

Wow! Raw matter in a very agitated state. That is really impressive, such a huge mass of matter in some of it’s most elemental forms, going through some equally impressive gymnastics.

Gary Hladik

(Yawn) Wake me when you have a billion-year time lapse. Then we might learn something. 🙂
Just kidding. This is great stuff, the kind of thing NASA should do more of (and less of you-know-what).

Very impressive!
If I go outside on a hot day I can feel the infrared radiation from the sun heating my skin, I know if I don’t use a sun-screen the ultraviolet radiation will make my skin burn, before it tans. This is from an object that is 93,000,000 miles away and is converting 4,000,000 tons of mass per second into energy in accordance with E=MC2. Personally I think that any fluctuations in this very stable star’s output of say 0.039%,( which is not very much and probably cannot be measured) will have a greater effect on the climate of the Earth than the 0.039% of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere increasing to 0.04%!

ducdorleans says: April 24, 2013 at 11:03 am
@ vukcevic …is this real, or some computer generated thingie ?
NASA says: This video takes SDO images and applies additional processing to enhance the structures visible. While there is no scientific value to this processing, it does result in a beautiful, new way of looking at the sun. The original frames are in the 171 Angstrom wavelength of extreme ultraviolet. This wavelength shows plasma in the solar atmosphere, called the corona, that is around 600,000 Kelvin. The loops represent plasma held in place by magnetic fields. They are concentrated in “active regions” where the magnetic fields are the strongest. These active regions usually appear in visible light as sunspots. The events in this video represent 24 hours of activity on September 25, 2011.

Crabalocker

Strange how the active region of the Sun in the above photo kinda’ resembles the banding on Jupiter.

H.R.

@philjourdan, April 24, 2013 at 10:40 am
who says:
“I am sure some astrophysicist can easily explain this to me. But I was fascinated by the sun spots and eruptions on the Sun over the 3 years. Virtually none at the poles, and very few on the equator. But almost all on the Tropic of Cancer or Capricorn (if thought of in terms of the Earth). It seems to mirror the tropical storms of Earth in where they are located.”
=======================================
You beat me to it! The same thing struck me. And around minute 2, I started watching the poles and you can see tiny Alka-Seltzer-like ‘pops’ firing off all the time. Their position seems unconstrained, unlike the major features at the ‘tropics’ that seem to hold their overall shape and position.
OTOH, I’m not used to watching 3 years of the sun in 3 minutes, so maybe I’m not past the gee whiz aspect yet and can’t really focus much on what’s going on.
Neat stuff!

If you close your mind and stomp your feet three times the sun’s effect does not count in computer software programs.

nemo

Broken links?
All the links to skip to particular times appear to be incomplete.

MrX

This is cool too. Another NASA Sun video of coronal mass ejection.

James From Arding

What a great way to start my day at breakfast time! Uplifting to think that mankind is able to achieve such technogical excellence. I really don’t want to read any further down on WUWT (but I will 🙂 – it often makes me somwhat depressed, sad and then angry to realise how many sharlatans their are out there calling themselves Climate Scientists (you know who you are).

Ain’t science wonderful? I’m always fascinated by things like this. Great post!

with genuine feeling: thanks Mr Watt! This is really cool (no pun LOL).

jorgekafkazar

Thanks, Anthony, Vuk, and MrX. Great pictures. The NASA music track isn’t very apropos, imnsho. Maybe something more Wagnerian? Holstian? Prokofievish? Beethovenlich? Not sure. Any music majors out there who can supply what I’m reaching for? No Ravel, please.

Louis Hooffstetter

WOW! This is why we love WUWT. The more we learn, the more we realize just how little we really know.
But think of how much more we would know if all the money squandered on Climastrology had been used to study our nearest star!

heysuess

Is it just my imagination, or is NASA refocusing on real science once again, ever since the now-forgotten departure of James Hansen? 😉

William Astley

If you look closely at the video you can see the sunspots area decrease as sunspots are replaced with pores. The following is an explanation of what is happening.
The magnetic field strength of new newly formed sunspots has for the last ten years being decaying linearly. (See the link to Livingston and Penn’s paper that discusses the discovery of this solar change.) Specifically why the magnetic field strength of newly formed sunspots is decaying linearly is not known.
The sunspots are hypothesized (one of the hypothesized mechanisms) to be formed from magnetic ropes that are hypothesized to be formed deep within the sun in the narrow solar region that separates the solar convection zone and solar radiative zone which is called the tachocline. The magnetic ropes require a minimum field strength to avoid being torn apart as they rise up through the convection zone. When the magnetic ropes are shredded, what forms on the surface of the sun are pores (the name specialists have given for small sunspots).
This solar change is interesting as one of the hypothesized mechanisms to create magnetic ropes at the tachocline is that the old sunspots move down at the solar poles by convection and then are amplified at the tachocline to form the next cycle’s sunspots.
http://www.stars2.eu/A_Task_Content/TaskA1/solar_internal.jpg
http://www.probeinternational.org/Livingston-penn-2010.pdf
Long-term Evolution of Sunspot Magnetic Fields Matthew J. Penn and William Livingston
We reported in Penn & Livingston (2006) that a time series of this magnetic field data showed a decrease in the umbral magnetic field strength which was independent of the normal sunspot cycle. Also, the measurements revealed a threshold magnetic field strength of about 1500 Gauss, below which no dark pores formed. A linear extrapolation of the magnetic field trend suggested that the mean field strength would reach this threshold 1500 Gauss value in the year 2017.
From Dr. Leif Svalgaard’s collection of solar data and papers.
http://www.leif.org/research/Livingston%20and%20Penn.png
http://www.leif.org/research/Livingston-Penn-Distribution.png
http://www.leif.org/research/Livingston-Poster.jpg
The current solar change may be the cause of the Dansgaard-Oeschger cycles (once every 1450 years – discrete plus or minus 500 years – i.e. 950 years (minus 500 year), 1450 years, 2950 years – plus or minus 500 years) and the very strong Heinrich events (6000 years to 8000 years). There are cosmogenic isotope changes that correlate with D-O cycles and the Heinrich events.
http://www.climate4you.com/
This graph (Greenland Ice sheet temperature) show the D-O cycles and the last major Heinrich event (12,900 years before present) which is called the Younger Dryas cooling event.
http://www.climate4you.com/images
/GISP2%20TemperatureSince10700%20BP%20with%20CO2%20from%20EPICA%20DomeC.gif

john robertson

Wonderful.
I guess in another 30 years or so we will have data for3 cycles and hopefully more sensors arrayed around our life source.
How many satellites are needed to cover the full surface?

William Astley

The following is more information concerning how unusual the 20th century period of high solar activity was and what to possibly expect if the sun moves abruptly into a deep minimum.
http://arxiv.org/abs/0706.0385
Grand minima and maxima of solar activity: New observational constraints I.G. Usoskin, S.K. Solanki, and G.A. Kovaltsov
…We present an updated reconstruction of sunspot number over multiple millennia, from 14C data by means of a physics-based model, using an updated model of the evolution of the solar open magnetic flux. A list of grand minima and maxima of solar activity is presented for the Holocene (since 9500 BC) and the statistics of both the length of individual events as well as the waiting time between them are analyzed…. …Solar activity on multi-millenial time scales has been recently reconstructed using a physics-based model from measurements of 14C in tree rings (see full details in
Solanki et al. 2004, Usoskin et al. 2006a). The validity of the model results for the last centennia has been proven by independent data on measurements of 44Ti in stony meteorites (Usoskin et al. 2006b). The reconstruction depends on the knowledge of temporal changes of the geomagnetic dipole field, which must be estimated independently by paleomagnetic methods. Here we compare two solar activity reconstructions, which are based on alternative paleomagnetic models: one which yields an estimate of the virtual aligned dipole moment (VADM) since 9500 BC (Yang et al. 2000), and the other a recent paleomagnetic reconstruction of the true dipole moment since 5000 BC (Korte & Constable 2005). We note that the geomagnetic dipole moment obtained by Korte & Constable (2005) lies systematically lower than that of Yang et al. (2000), leading to a systematically higher solar activity reconstruction in the past (Usoskin et al. 2006a). While the geomagnetic reconstruction of the VADM by Yang et al. (2000) provides an upper bound for the true dipole moment, the more recent work of Korte & Constable (2005) may underestimate it. Thus we consider both models as they bound a realistic case. We note that the Yang et al. (2000) data run more than 4000 years longer and give a more conservative estimate of the grand maxima.
See figure 3 in this paper. It shows that solar activity in 20th century particularly in the last half of the 20th century was the highest in 12,000 years and more importantly the duration of the high period was the longest in 12,000 years.
The last period of very high solar activity occurred before the Younger Dryas abrupt cooling event at which time the planet went from interglacial warm to glacial cold with 70% of the cooling occurring in a decade or less. The Younger Dryas is a Heinrich abrupt cooling event.
Fig. 3. Sunspot activity SN-L throughout the Holocene (see text) smoothed with a 1-2-2-2-1 filter. Blue and red areas denote grand minima and maxima, respectively. The entire series is spread over two panels for better visibility.
http://cc.oulu.fi/~usoskin/personal/nature02995.pdf
Unusual activity of the Sun during recent decades compared to the previous 11,000 years by S. K. Solanki, I. G. Usoskin, B. Kromer, M. Schussler & J. Beer
Here we report a reconstruction of the sunspot number covering the past 11,400 years, based on dendrochronologically dated radiocarbon concentrations. We combine physics-based models for each of the processes connecting the radiocarbon concentration with sunspot number. According to our reconstruction, the level of solar activity during the past 70 years is exceptional, and the previous period of equally high activity occurred more than 8,000 years ago. We find that during the past 11,400 years the Sun spent only of the order of 10% of the time at a similarly high level of magnetic activity and almost all of the earlier high-activity periods were shorter than the present episode. Although the
rarity of the current episode of high average sunspot numbers may indicate that the Sun has contributed to the unusual climate change during the twentieth century, we point out that solar variability is unlikely to have been the dominant cause of the strong warming during the past three decades. (William: The authors considered total solar irradiation TSI which is not the major mechanism by which the sun modulate planetary temperature. The mechanism is modulation of low level and high level clouds. There are another set of specialists who have almost worked out the details as to how the sun modulates planetary cloud cover. I will when there is unambiguous cooling present a summary of the research and fill in what I believe is the last and key missing mechanism.)
Greenland ice sheet temperatures last 11,000 years
http://www.climate4you.com/images/GISP2%20TemperatureSince10700%20BP%20with%20CO2%20from%20EPICA%20DomeC.gif
Antarctic ice sheet temperatures last 450,000 years.
http://www.climate4you.com/images/VostokTemp0-420000%20BP.gif
Ocean temperatures derived from ocean sediment analysis, last 5 million years.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f7/Five_Myr_Climate_Change.svg

Wow, I really had no idea the sun spun that fast. Seems likely the “tropical” concentration of flares is a centrifugal effect. Even more interesting is the spectral distribution. Some sort of isocracy maintains Leif’s “solar constant” as dark areas balance out concentrations of flares, but the ultra high energy wavelengths warm our oceans.

William Astley says:
April 24, 2013 at 7:43 pm
The following is more information concerning how unusual the 20th century period of high solar activity was
The 20th century high solar activity is an artifact. The so-called Grand Modern Maximum did not happen.
http://www.leif.org/research/The%20long-term%20variation%20of%20solar%20activity.pdf

Hoser

Leif, what are the rounded v shaped arcs on the surface of the Sun, several usually in parallel? Sor of like this: (>>>) , but extending more toward the poles. They alternate bright and dark. It appears the eruptions occur on the bright bands. And more interestingly a cluster of sunspots seems to form where the banding becomes more turbulent and apparently degrades. It partially explains why a group of spots seems to gather in one area on the surface, moving as the Sun rotates. The banding suggests magnetic structure appearing on the surface that I’ve never noticed before. The 171 Å images show the banding much more clearly than the other wavelength images.

Hoser says:
April 24, 2013 at 10:27 pm
Leif, what are the rounded v shaped arcs on the surface of the Sun, several usually in parallel?
They are ‘filaments’,i.e. Clouds of Hydrogen suspended in the magnetic field of the solar atmosphere. They usually lie over lines where the magnetic field changes sign. When a filament becomes unstable it can erupt and we see an CME [Coronal Mass Ejection]. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_prominence

Janice Moore

Dear Jorge Kafkazar,
I agree, the NASA soundtrack music was almost-but-not-quite. May I suggest: 1) Tchaikovsky’s Concerto No. 1 as performed by Van Cliburn with Kiril Kondrashin conducting at Carnegie Hall on May 19, 1958; or 2) Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3 in G Major. Both capture the grandeur and majesty and beauty of what we watched.
Thank you, dear Mr. Watts. What a lovely end to a long day.
The One Who made……… the Sun……………………………………………loves … me. And I weep for joy.

Joe

Will be interesting to hear the theory of why the most active regions are in the ‘tropics’.

William Astley

In reply to:
Leif Svalgaard says:
April 24, 2013 at 9:31 pm
William Astley says:
April 24, 2013 at 7:43 pm
The following is more information concerning how unusual the 20th century period of high solar activity was …
Leif Svalgaard: …The 20th century high solar activity is an artifact. The so-called Grand Modern Maximum did not happen. …
William,
You continue to repeat that the 20th century grand solar maximum did not occur. I find that astonishing as we observed that it did.
Are you also going to claim that the sun is not entering a grand minimum? We are currently at the maximum of solar cycle 24. Is this the same or different that solar cycle 22 and 23?
http://www.solen.info/solar/images/comparison_recent_cycles.png
Why is the magnetic field strength of newly formed sunspots decaying linearly? What will be the final consequences of this sudden change to the sun? Sunspots are being replaced with pores. Think of what is happening using Eugene Parker’s tachocline/magnetic rope model. As the magnetic rope field strength decays the ropes are being torn apart as they rise up through the convection zone which explains the observed change on the surface of the sun from sunspots to pores. Extrapolate the change. As magnetic field strength of the ropes decays further they are torn apart in convection zone and there is nothing left to form pores on the surface of the sun. The solar magnetic field has been interrupted. How does it restart?
Has this special solar change happened before? Yes. There are cyclic unexplained abrupt changes in cosmogenic isotopes (C14 for example) in the paleo record.
Do the cyclic anomalously changes on the earth correlate with cosmogenic isotope changes which indicates that a major solar cycle change occurred at the same time? Yes.
When was the last time the magnetic field strength of newly formed sunspots decay linearly?
http://arxiv.org/abs/1009.0784v1
Long-term Evolution of Sunspot Magnetic Fields
Independent of the normal solar cycle, a decrease in the sunspot magnetic field
strength has been observed using the Zeeman-split 1564.8nm Fe I spectral line at the
NSO Kitt Peak McMath-Pierce telescope…. ….This trend was seen to continue in observations of the first sunspots of the new solar Cycle 24, and extrapolating a linear fit to this trend would lead to only half the number of spots in Cycle 24 compared to Cycle 23, and imply virtually no sunspots in Cycle 25. …. ….We reported in Penn & Livingston (2006) that a time series of this magnetic field data showed a decrease in the umbral magnetic field strength which was independent of the normal sunspot cycle. Also, the measurements revealed a threshold magnetic field strength of about 1500 Gauss, below which no dark pores formed. A linear extrapolation of the magnetic field trend suggested that the mean field strength would reach this threshold 1500 Gauss value in the year 2017.
I am curious why has there been no discussion concerning pores replacing sunspots?
http://wattsupwiththat.com/reference-pages/solar/
K.G. McCracken’s “Long Term Trends in the Intensity of GCR and Frequency of occurrence of Solar Particle Events.”
http://hesperia.gsfc.nasa.gov/sspvse/oral/Ken_McCracken/wintergreen1.pdf
I find it surreal (a Heinrich event is a big deal) that we are watching the solar magnetic cycle interruption occurring in slow motion as this specific change in the sun appears to be the cause of the Heinrich events.
Have you ever looked at and thought what causes the changes to this graphs?
Greenland ice sheet temperatures last 11,000 years
http://www.climate4you.com/images/GISP2%20TemperatureSince10700%20BP%20with%20CO2%20from%20EPICA%20DomeC.gif
Antarctic ice sheet temperatures last 450,000 years.
http://www.climate4you.com/images/VostokTemp0-420000%20BP.gif
Ocean temperatures derived from ocean sediment analysis, last 5 million years.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f7/Five_Myr_Climate_Change.svg
http://cio.eldoc.ub.rug.nl/FILES/root/2000/QuatIntRenssen/2000QuatIntRenssen.pdf
Reduced solar activity as a trigger for the start of the Younger Dryas? By Hans Renssen, Bas van Geel, Johannes van der Plicht, Michel Magny
The authors of the above 2000 published paper are theoretically on the correct page. It appears the sun did cause the Younger Dryas cool event (Heinrich event, they occur with a frequency of 6000 to 8000 years) and it appears solar magnetic cycle changes also cause the Dansgaard-Oeschger cycle (1450 year cycle). The mechanism is not TSI (total solar irradiation) changes however. The geomagnetic specialists have found a geomagnetic excursion that correlates the YD. TSI variations do not cause geomagnetic excursions.
Are there any other cyclic anomalous changes on the earth in the paleo record? Yes. Abrupt climate changes and abrupt changes to the geomagnetic field. There are burn marks on the surface of the planet that correlate in time with the geomagnetic excursions. The geomagnetic excursions correlate in time with the start and termination of interglacial period. The orbital configuration of the planet at the time of the event determines whether the event reinforces or ultimately strengths the geomagnetic field strength. In all cases the residue field in the earth’s liquid core resists rapid field changes.

beng

***
William Astley says:
April 25, 2013 at 5:12 am
***
Magnetics have as much effect on the earth’s climate as holding a big magnet against a ceramic steam locomotive. None…

Jean Meeus

Elmer wrote:

It is known since Galileo that the Sun rotates!
One complete rotation with respect to the stars is about 25 days, resulting in one complete rotation with resoect to the moving Earth. The “about” is due to the fact that the Sun doesn’t rotate as a solid body, as one complete rotation takes somewhat longer at higher heliographic latitudes than for regions near the Sun’s equator.

William Astley says:
April 25, 2013 at 5:12 am
You continue to repeat that the 20th century grand solar maximum did not occur. I find that astonishing as we observed that it did.
The point is that we didn’t. I gave you the reasons for that. You ignore them. The rest of your post is your usual speculation.

Mac the Knife

Watching that made me real thirsty! };>)
I had to mute the sound track… a distraction and oddly not inspiring either. There is soooooo much detail apparent that it begs watching repeatedly. Can’t now but later this evening!
MtK

Tom in Florida

William Astley says:
April 25, 2013 at 5:12 am
“Have you ever looked at and thought what causes the changes to this graphs?
Greenland ice sheet temperatures last 11,000 years”
A simple explanation could be due to changes in Milankovitch cycles. 10,000 years ago obliquity was near maximum of 24.5 and NH summer solstice was at perihelion. There was a lot more insolation on the Greenland ice sheet then and it has been slowly declining since as obliquity declines and NH summer solstice has moved to aphelion.

Hoser

Thanks Leif. Then these are the physical manifestations of the magnetic filaments produced by the dynamo, and penetrate through the surface about 60° to 70° N and S. Then if a sunspot is located “under” one of these filaments, then doesn’t that indicate the magnetic field lines also penetrate the photosphere at these points? I think now the whole system is much more clear.
From Wiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun), apparently the photosphere is more dense than the convection zone or the atmosphere. So when the field lines pass through the photosphere, are they essentially pinned at these locations? Or is the atmosphere more or less anchored to the photosphere anyway?
It would seem the photosphere would be tied via the convection zone to the deeper layers, and thus is not really free to rotate at a different rate than the deeper material. Or does convection also get stretched? I guess it would have to be stretched given the change in angular velocity required to conserve angular momentum. Or does hot material flow up from the core at the equator and then N and S to compensate?
Although I’m enjoying this, it’s probably a waste of time for you.
Thanks.

Wow..I haven’t seen anything like this before. Science is so beautiful.