NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, more commonly known as SDO, has spent the last three years taking pictures of the sun, showing off its steady increase in activity as its latest 11-year cycle nears its peak. As part of the project, NASA has taken some of the images and compiled them into a single 3-minute video, which makes it easy to see the gradual increase in solar activity. You can check out the video after the jump.
The SDO started taking the pictures early in 2010, says NASA, snapping one image of the sun every 12 seconds, each shot being taken in 10 wavelengths. Each wavelength shows the sun in a different way, with four of them being featured in the second half of the video, which you can watch below. The video most prominently displays the sun in 171 Angstroms wavelength.
Although the SDO captured an image every 12 seconds, the video only features two images taken each day over the course of three years. Each image is shown for two frames, and the video has a frame rate of 29.7fps. As such, the video is only 3 minutes long, but makes it simple to note every 25-day rotation, as well as some other events, including a partial eclipse, a solar flare, and even the comet Lovejoy.
The solar images provide scientists with a constant stream of data to analyze, helping to solve questions and offer data on a variety of phenomenon. If you have an astute eye, you might notice that the sun seems to shrink and grow very slightly over the course of the video. NASA says this is because the spacecraft that took the images and the sun's position are variable.