First light from the Solar Dynamics Observatory

Check out this full-disk view of the Sun on March 30, taken by the newly launched Solar Dynamics Observatory and released this past week:

SDO image of the Sun in ultraviolet. Credit: NASA/Goddard/SDO AIA Team

Quite a bit different from my filtered visible-light image from March 24, isn’t it? Each colour represents a different wavelength of extreme ultraviolet radiation (the SDO’s AIA instrument measures 10 wavelength bands), each corresponding to a different temperature.

And here’s a solar prominence eruption measured by the same instrument, from the SDO’s YouTube channel:

Launched into a geosynchronous orbit around the Earth on February 11, the SDO measures the sun both at high resolution and at a high data rate: the spacecraft is able to beam 1.5 TB of data back to Earth every day (Sky and Telescope, Universe Today).

(Image credit: NASA/Goddard/SDO AIA Team.)