[url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrmUUcr4HXg"]http://www.youtube.c...h?v=QrmUUcr4HXg[/url]NASA has released the first videos from its new solar telescope, the Solar Dynamics Observatory. They are stunning. The NASA website includes several hi-def movies and images from the telescope that will simply knock your socks off.
The site notes, "As soon as SDO's telescope doors opened, the spacecraft began beaming back scenes so beautiful and puzzlingly complex that even seasoned observers were stunned. "
The SDO was looking at the decaying sunspot number 1060 when it unleashed a solar flare, followed by a shock wave that raced across the surface of the sun. Four hours later, a massive prominence erupted 200,000 kms from the in ital flare. On seeing the video of that solar prominence and resulting CME, one scientist said, "...my colleagues say they've learned new things about prominences just by watching this one movie."
The SDO is the first of several planned missions to understand the sun and "measure its impact on life and society on Earth." It has been called a groundbreaking technology that will have the same transformative effect on astronomy as the Hubble telescope has.
The SDO has unprecedented high definition, ten times greater than a hi-def TV, using 4096 x 4096-pixel CCDs with "huge dynamic range" and can monitor the entire, full disk sun including its atmosphere, surface, and even interior. Yes - interior. The SDO uses a "Helioseismic Magnetic Imager (HMI)" that uses acoustic waves to map the interior of the sun.
There is also an "Extreme UV Variability Experiment (EVE)" that monitors the sun in the extreme UV region of the electromagnetic spectrum where where the brightness of the sun can "rise and fall a hundredfold in the blink of an eye." This variability affects Earth's upper atmosphere and our satellites.
Exciting times for astronomers! You can see the full gallery of initial images on NASA's visualization site. You can see more Youtube movies of the SDO and its launch here.