Are You Keeping an Eye on SDO Keeping an Eye on the Sun?

Article Updated: 20 Jan , 2016

Have you been checking out the Solar Dynamics Observatory website and seeing all the amazing, high resolution images of our closest star? If not, you should. Above is a great new video of SDO’s capabilities and latest images. If you want to see what the Sun looks like right now, go to SDO’s homepage. And here’s a link to the SDO image browser where you can see the different images in different wavelengths from the AIA (Atmospheric Imaging Assembly) and HMI (Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager). If you choose the date range option, you can see a “movie” of the Sun’s activity. For example, check out the enormous coronal hole in the northern hemisphere seen last week in AIA 193 (date range 6/28 to 7/3), allow all the images to download and then press “Play.” Completely awesome. The SDO website should be part of your daily internet routine!


16 Responses

  1. sgchr says:

    That’s really cool. However, I find another one on: Watch it in HD if your video card allows you. Amazing!

  2. Torbjorn Larsson OM says:

    No. I’m satisfied with keeping an eye on a blog keeping an eye on SDO keeping an eye on the Sun. (So my Erd?s number is 4, assuming Erd?s has been referring to the Sun.) Nice catch!

  3. Lawrence B. Crowell says:

    Torbjorn Larsson OM, Are you referring to Erdos numbers some mathematicians use? I know a couple of mathematicians with low Erdos numbers.

    I need to look up something on the solar magnetic field. Some of these images, based on observed data I presume, illustrate magnetic field lines that are not exactly what I would expect.


  4. Torbjorn Larsson OM says:

    @ billy_stanley:

    The UT site has been behaving erratically for a while, and ironically the post I want to refer to is likely on UT. I’m sorry if it turns out the wrong one, but I don’t feel like waiting on it anymore.

    So. There may be scientists that believe something unusual is going on inside our sun or are baffled about it. However, it is an old theory (I’ve seen independent references to at least the -90s) that the solar cycle is semi-chaotic, and it is fairly certain that there have been a much longer minimum (the Meander minimum) associated with it. So many or most may AFAIU believe it is normal behavior.

    However, as mentioned some have a fairly good ideas on what is going on. Especially that link (I think) presents a model where the solar cycle is coupled to specific solar dynamics. IIRC on a circumferential flow that wander to specific latitudes before the cycle starts anew; it was the contingently long solar cycle that was the tip off to the mechanism.

    I don’t believe that someone think there will be stronger than usual solar storms and amount of radiation after a long minimum, nor that it would be cause to think so. The Meander minimum didn’t turn out to behave so.

    And generally chaotic systems are hard to find correlations in. (At least that was my impression during not so systematic but rather hands on numerical experiments on dynamic systems during my university education.)

    That last specific idea seems more like folk physics or 2012 conspiracy theories, are you sure that isn’t the case? References would help.

  5. Torbjorn Larsson OM says:

    Here is such models used to make sense of other sun’s solar cycles. The figures illustrate the flow:

    “Many models of the Sun’s magnetic dynamo make use of the meridional [sic!?] circulation. In these models the period of the cycle is inversely related to the flow velocity at the base of the convection zone. In other models the period is inversely related to v??a.” [Sorry about the ??, my .ppt parser is old.]

  6. billy_stanley says:

    Our sun has been of intense interest for scientists lately. The cycle of sunspots is not normal, and the scientists think something unusual is going on within the inside of our star. They admit that it has them rather baffled and have no idea what is going on. They are wondering about stronger than usual solar storms and the amount of radiation that will effect Earth. They are sounding no real warnings but it gives one pause to wonder. I’ll admit I know more about string theory than I do about our sun, but that’s not saying much.

  7. Torbjorn Larsson OM says:

    @ LBC: Yes, as JEST: it is enough that they are “referring” to each other. :-d More appropriate would be the network distance to Bacon, where one would “know” each other.

    Re the magnetic lines, for myself I’m a bit baffled by depicting them as stopping mid-vacuum. I presume it is a computational effect (say, from a weak field cutoff). Anyone who has played around with similar software may know.

  8. Torbjorn Larsson OM says:

    Oops, keyboard fumbling: “Yes, as JEST” – Yes, as a jest.

  9. Lawrence B. Crowell says:

    Torbjorn Larsson OM: I too wonder about some of this. In particular B field lines going around the circumference and so forth. The field lines stopping mid vacuum is I think a scale factoring — run out of space.


  10. Torbjorn Larsson OM says:

    @ Lawrence B. Crowell: Oh, I missed that, and that is the simpler explanation especially seeing they all stop at the same radius. Thanks a field bunch!

    Btw, I’m not sure there are any field lines going around the circumference.

  11. Torbjorn Larsson OM says:

    Uh, so it was a meridian flow. Oh, well.

  12. erthx13 says:

    Thanks Nancy, i managed to miss image browser

  13. Audiozobe says:

    There’s a really nice nice iPod/iPhone/iPad app to keep up with that, if one is into that sort of thing…

  14. Lawrence B. Crowell says:

    Torbjorn Larsson OM: Thanks for the NASA ppt on solar physics. This illustrates the toroidal fields at the solar surface and how they come about. The field lines are being wrapped around by the differential rotation of the solar plasma. In previous video presentations this field configuration was shown in a brief pictures, and left me scratching my head.

    Now that the EU/PU guys have largely left it would be interesting to have a real plasma physicist post here.


  15. Aodhhan says:

    The Sun is moving into old age. Lets see how regular you are when you become old and start to slow down!

  16. rigel says:

    the sun is quite cool. I wonder if yellow stars like capella and procyon also have this. The flares are cool!

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