Watch: Four Months in the Volatile Life of the Sun

Ever wonder what a season looks like on the massive, gaseous central hub of the solar system?

If so, you’re in luck. NASA condensed a continuous 133-day video of the solar surface to one hour of footage. You’ll watch the sun roil with plasmatic discharges along magnetic field lines — some revolve back to the star to be re-consumed, and some ripple out into space, released as cosmic radiation.

The images come from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, a spacecraft launched in 2010 as part of the agency’s Living With a Star program. Its primary mission lasted five years, but NASA said the station should remain operational until 2030, Sciencealert said.

“Operational” might be stating its functionality lightly. The observatory captures approximately 70,000 images — or 1.5 terabytes of data — daily. A 2017 paper in Nature that compiled that huge load of data called it “… one of the richest and biggest repositories of solar image data available to mankind.”

Catch a big chunk of it in one hour here; whether or not you’ve got 60 minutes to zone out, it’s fun to skip around and watch the changes.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson takes any writing assignments he can talk his way into while intermittently traveling the American West and Mexico in search of margaritas — er, adventure. He parlayed a decade of roving trade work into a life of fair-weather rock climbing and truck dwelling before (to his parents’ evident relief) finding a way to put his BA in English to use. Sam loves animals, sleeping outdoors, campfire refreshments and a good story.