NASA’s SDO Spies An Elongated Coronal Hole

April 8, 2016 – A long coronal hole can be seen right down the middle of the sun in this video captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory on March 23-25, 2016.

Coronal holes are areas on the sun where the solar magnetic field extends up and out into interplanetary space, sending solar material speeding out in a high-speed stream of solar wind. Scientists study these fast solar wind streams because they sometimes interact with Earth’s magnetic field, creating what’s called a geomagnetic storm, which can expose satellites to radiation and interfere with communications signals.

This video was captured in extreme ultraviolet wavelengths of 193 angstroms – a type of light that is typically invisible to our eyes, but is colorized here in bronze.

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory is designed to study the causes of solar variability and its impacts on Earth. The spacecraft’s long-term measurements give solar scientists in-depth information to help characterize the interior of the sun, the sun’s magnetic field, the hot plasma of the solar corona, and the density of radiation that creates the ionosphere of the planets. The information is used to create better forecasts of space weather needed to protect aircraft, satellites and astronauts living and working in space.

SDO includes three instruments: the Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment (EVE) built in partnership with the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP), the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) built in partnership with Stanford University, and the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) built in partnership with the Lockheed Martin Solar & Astrophysics Laboratory. Data collected by the spacecraft is made available as soon as possible after it is received.

Goddard built, operates and manages the SDO spacecraft for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C. SDO is the first mission of NASA’s Living with a Star Program.

SDO was launched on February 11, 2010 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.