Since its launch in February 11, 2010, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory has been busy watching the sun, capturing an image of the magnificent star more than once per second. And now it has taken some 200 million images of the sun to date.
The images have given scientists and lay people alike the extraordinary opportunity to observe exactly what happens on the sun’s surface. For instance, most recently, a massive, dark line -- called a solar filament -- was spotted snaking across the sun's surface.
In celebration of the observatory’s fifth anniversary on Wednesday, NASA released a spectacular time-lapse video (above), featuring some of the highlights from the last five years of the observatory’s solar-watching.
“Watch the movie to see giant clouds of solar material hurled out into space, the dance of giant loops hovering in the corona, and huge sunspots growing and shrinking on the sun's surface,” NASA scientists said in a written statement.