For the last thirteen years, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), in orbit around Earth, has taken snapshots of the Sun every 0.75 seconds. The 4K video above shows the solar activity as photographed from August 12 to December 22 last year. Researchers use the data to better understand how solar phenomena and how our star interacts with our solar system. From NASA Goddard:
With a triad of instruments, SDO captures an image of the Sun every 0.75 seconds. The Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) instrument alone captures images every 12 seconds at 10 different wavelengths of light. This 133-day time lapse showcases photos taken at a wavelength of 17.1 nanometers, which is an extreme-ultraviolet wavelength that shows the Sun's outermost atmospheric layer: the corona. Compiling images taken 108 seconds apart, the movie condenses 133 days, or about four months, of solar observations into 59 minutes. The video shows bright active regions passing across the face of the Sun as it rotates. The Sun rotates approximately once every 27 days. The loops extending above the bright regions are magnetic fields that have trapped hot, glowing plasma. These bright regions are also the source of solar flares, which appear as bright flashes as magnetic fields snap together in a process called magnetic reconnection.
While SDO has kept an unblinking eye pointed toward the Sun, there have been a few moments it missed. Some of the dark frames in the video are caused by Earth or the Moon eclipsing SDO as they pass between the spacecraft and the Sun. Other blackouts are caused by instrumentation being down or data errors. SDO transmits 1.4 terabytes of data to the ground every day. The images where the Sun is off-center were observed when SDO was calibrating its instruments.