8 unforgettable photos of the sun taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory

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Celebrating the NASA observatory’s 100 millionth image of our favorite star.

A sample of the SDO's images

Over the weekend, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) hit a major milestone. Just under five years after its launch, on Jan. 19, SDO captured its 100 millionth image of the sun. That’s eight whole zeros, folks.

Using the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA), an instrument which, as NASA explains, “uses four telescopes working parallel to gather eight images of the sun – cycling through 10 different wavelengths – every 12 seconds,” as well as two other instruments on board, SDO delivers an incredible 1.5 terabytes of data each and every day. That’s 57,600 detailed images of the sun every 24 hours.

To celebrate the achievement, we thought, we’d share eight of our favorite images of the sun from SDO since it went live. Prepare to be dazzled.

A long filament eruption

A long filament eruption on the sun

On Aug. 31, 2012, SDO captured this beauty. The image shows a long filament of solar material that had been in the sun’s atmosphere as it erupted into space. This shot by itself is stunning, but it also had real world effects down here on Earth. The coronal mass ejection traveled at more than 900 miles per second and caused auroras to appear on Earth just days later.

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