NASA always has some cool photos to show off, and this little gem, especially, doesn’t disappoint. As a part of NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day, the Solar Dynamics Observatory satellite took photos of the sun for a whole year and combined them into one picture. The result is a sun with nothing but solar flares all around.
The photo looks like it was taken mid-explosion (if the sun ever did explode), with the center exploding outward with the top and bottom to soon follow. However, that actually isn’t what’s happening exactly. The satellite captured a year’s worth of solar flares and storms and compiled them into one gigantic photo (you can also view the high-res 4K version as well).
The photo is a composite of 25 images captured in “extreme ultraviolet light” by the orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory, and they were taken between April 16, 2012 and April 15, 2013. The particular wavelength of light featured in the photo has a temperature of around one million degrees Fahrenheit — certainly hot enough to disintegrate anything that gets close enough.
You can see that most of the solar flares are bunched up near the center of the sun, or at the equator so to speak. And if you look closely, you can see that the solar flares form two lines around the sun, leaving the equator practically free of any solar flares due to the sun’s magnetic field lines — quite impressive to see!