NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory has just completed a decade in space. This means it has completed and observed almost an entire solar cycle.
Here are the ten most amazing observations made by the SDO about the Sun.
1. Flares: The Sun’s surface is burning and regularly experience massive outbursts of plasma. The SDO had captured numerous such flares, and they’re genuinely glorious to watch.
2. Massive Waves: Imagine having a fire in the oceans, instead of water. That’s a reality on the Sun. Sun’s surface is like a vast sea of plasma that keeps whipping tremendous waves, that travel for almost 3 million miles per year!
3. Solar Tornadoes: SDO captured footage of solar tornadoes formed due to plasma spinning due to magnetic fields.
4. Comets interaction: Out of the two comets observed by the SDO, Comet Lovejoy passed the Sun’s surroundings without being affected, while Comet ISON was destroyed.
5. Complex Meridional Circulation: It turns out that Meridonial Circulation, large-scale circular patterns moving around the mid-latitudes, is more complex than as thought earlier.
6. Coronal Dimming: It has been observed that coronal dimming is directly linked to CMEs, coronal mass ejections. This observation helped scientists calculate the velocity and mass of CMEs directed towards Earth.
7. Future Prediction: CMEs can induce space weather when they come in contact with Earth’s magnetic field. This can be dangerous for space-crafts and harm astronauts. The data collected by SDO will help in building machine-learning models to predict CME release.
8. The Solar Cycle: Observing the entire solar-cycle as recorded by the SDO, the scientists have gained new insights and signs of birth and death of a solar cycle.
9. Polar Coronal Holes: The appearance and disappearance of extreme coronal holes helped the scientists to determine the reversing of Sun’s magnetic field.
10. New Magnetic Explosions: Up until now, only general forms of magnetic reconnections were observed on the Sun. But just at the end of the decade, SDO observed a spontaneous magnetic reconnection for the first time.