10 discoveries by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO)



This week has the 10th anniversary of NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) spacecraft that has shown the world imagery of the sun.

Image Credit- Wikipedia.org

This spacecraft was launched on Feb. 11, 2010, during its one decade in orbit, spacecraft seen the planets crossing in front of the sun, studied about the activity of sun's scorching outer atmosphere (known as corona) and observed the entire 11-year solar cycle.

Top 10 most amazing discoveries by the spacecraft in the decade has come out.


1.Solar Flares


Image Credit- phys.org
SDO has spotted solar flares exploding from the surface of the Sun. SDO's cameras and science instruments are zeroed on the sun to catch these filaments of solar plasma when they appear. The $850 million measurements study the Earth's closest star by multiple wavelengths of light to produce the footage of the sun's activity. According to NASA, the spacecraft observed nearly 200 solar flares in its first 18 months which allows the scientists to spot a "late phase flare" pattern and help them to understand how much energy by the sun releases during the explosion of a flare.

2. Solar Tornadoes


Image Credit- pinterest.com






The spacecraft helped the researchers to study the giant tornados of the sun bringing them one step closer to solving the mystery of why the sun's outer atmosphere is hundreds of times hotter than its surface. These tornadoes are several times larger than Earth and are made of hot flows of gas and entwined magnetic-field lines that remain rooted to a fixed point on the solar surface. 
On Earth, tornadoes have a maximum speed of 482 km/h. But on either side, tornados on the sun have speeds of up to 186,000 mph (300,000 km/h).

3. Giant Waves


Image Credit - sciencenewsforstudents.org









The SDO discovers the giant waves on the Sun known as ‘EIT waves’.EIT waves are produced or made up of hot and electrically charged gas known as plasma that rolls across the sun's surface. The waves are discovered b Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope of SDO called the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory
SDO observes EIT waves during its first year in space. It showed how the EIT waves move across the star's surface. Coronal mass ejections, or volatile stellar "burps" that carry solar plasma out from the sun and into the solar system, might trigger EIT waves.

4. Comets


Image Credit-dw.com

Icy comets that originate in the solar system sometimes swing by the sun and the researchers like to watch these approaches to observe which comets will survive the close encounters and which ones evaporate and disintegrate.

5. Global Circulation


Image Credit-sec.edu

SDO helps the researchers to learn about the sun's plasma. The sun is more complicated than scientists' thoughts, SDO data suggest this. The instruments on the spacecraft are Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager, which is operated by scientists to watch the motion of plasma waves, just like scientists study seismic waves that travel below the surfaces of Earth and Mars The observations revealed that the conveyor-like mechanism that transports plasma throughout the sun, called meridional flow.

6. Coronal Mass Ejections


Image Credit-universetoday.com

The spacecraft took this image of the sun on Jan. 28, 2011. M-1 flare on the right was accompanied by a coronal mass ejection that blasted into space. ACME is an outpouring of material that can be hazardous to astronauts and spacecraft if it erupts in Earth's direction. The scientists have used the data gathered by SDO to predict how these blasts could affect Earth.

7. Coronal Dimming

Image Credit-youtube.com
To study when this charged material might head toward Earth, scientists developed a statistical analysis of several events spotted by SDO. The scientists also want to use the science of coronal dimming to view CMEs from stars.

8. Almost An Entire Solar Cycle


Image Credit- NASA

The sun is exiting from its dominant period and slowly reawaken to its active period or a solar maximum.
These images are taken by SDO which shows the sun when it's at almost opposite ends of its 11-year cycle of activity. Solar minimum is on the left, and the solar maximum is on the right. SDO's observations help scientists to understand the evolution of a solar cycle.

9. Polar Coronal Holes


Image Credit- NASA.gov

Massive holes on the surface of the sun seen in the image taken by spacecraft tend scientists to know about charged particles that can escape from these gaps in the sun's atmosphere.
The researchers also focus on these because when these holes disappear.

10. Spontaneous Magnetic Reconnection


Image Credit-frontiersin.org

An unknown kind of solar process is called magnetic reconnection, was seen first time by the observations of the spacecraft. The spacecraft's Atmospheric Imaging Assembly instrument obbserved the X-shaped event. The type of magnetic explosion caused by solar prominence which is a large loop of material that erupts over the sun's surface.