What do ten years mean to the Sun in its 4.6 billion years? The reality is that really very little. But for us, a historic opportunity to see its evolution. In an amazing video made in time-lapse format by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), we can see ten years of the Sun in minutes.
In the impressive clip, titled “A Decade of the Sun,” astronomers collected 425 million high-definition images, taken once every 0.75 seconds between June 2, 2010 and June 1, 2020. Every second of Video represents a day in the life of the Sun, and the entire decade passes in about 60 minutes.
During that decade, our star underwent a radical change, slowly bubbling with huge magnetic waves known as sunspots, which peaked around 2014 before disappearing again. The stillness of the sun was not a surprise; Every 11 years or so, the sun’s magnetic poles suddenly change places. North becomes south, solar magnetic activity begins to decline, and the sun’s surface begins to resemble a calm sea of yellow fire. This period of relative calm is called the solar minimum (and we are currently in the midst of one).
These changes are difficult to detect from Earth with the naked eye (although solar maxima result in more visible auroras at lower latitudes worldwide), but NASA’s SDO satellite clearly sees them while monitoring our star in ultraviolet light extreme. These ultra-energetic wavelengths traverse the glare of the sun and reveal abundant magnetic changes in the sun’s outermost atmosphere, or corona.
A more than attractive video to watch: