Since its launch in February 2010, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) has taken some 425 million high-resolution photographs of the Sun, allowing astronomers to observe every solar event in stunning detail. To celebrate the SDO’s first decade of service, the agency has put together a spectacular timelapse video showing one image of the Sun per second for each day of the past 10 years.
Available to view in 4K, this incredible video is made up of photographs taken at an extreme ultraviolet wavelength of 17.1 nanometers, and shows the star’s outermost atmospheric layer, known as the corona.
Compressed into 61 minutes, the story of the past decade of solar activity follows a familiar pattern, as the Sun can be observed undergoing its typical 11-year cycle. As can be seen in the video, commotion on the Sun’s surface reaches its peak around 2014, when the star becomes a maelstrom of rippling sunspots and bursting solar flares. This point in the cycle is called the solar maximum, and occurs when the sun’s magnetic poles switch places.
Once this reversal has occurred, solar activity begins to decrease until the solar minimum is reached midway through the cycle, when the Sun’s surface appears smooth and serene.
The video also contains a few dark frames, when the Sun disappears behind the Earth or the Moon as they pass between it and SDO. A slightly longer blackout also occurs in 2016, when the spacecraft stopped shooting because of a technical fault that took a week to fix.