In the news this month... And Finally, NASA's SDO returns spectacular images
Soon after the instruments opened their doors, the Sun began performing for SDO with this beautiful prominence eruption. This AIA data is from March 30, 2010, showing a wavelength band that is centered around 304 Å. This extreme ultraviolet emission line is from singly ionized Helium, or He II, and corresponds to a temperature of approx. 50,000 degrees Celsius. CREDIT: NASA SDO
NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory made its first light observations during April. Launched aboard an Atlas V rocket on February 11th, the spacecraft is on a five year mission to observe our nearest star in detail. The observations will help solar physicists understand solar activity and how it impacts us here on the Earth. The first light observations were released on April 21st and show a turbulent and dynamic surface. As well as taking images at a variety of wavelengths in order to probe different levels of the solar atmosphere, the instruments on board SDO can pick out features as small as 350 km across and take images every few seconds so events can be studied in detail. One of the main goals of SDO is to try and understand how the Sun's magnetic field is generated and how the energy stored in the magnetic field is released into the heliosphere. Data from SDO's instruments should help predict solar variations that affect life here on Earth. Images and movies from the first light observations are available on the SDO website.