NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) has produced dizzying pictures of the sun by taking one picture every 12 seconds for seven hours. In a post about the event, NASA wrote, “SDO images appeared to show the sun spinning, as if stuck on a pinwheel”.
According to our calculations NASA took 2100 pictures in seven hours. This exercise happens twice a year to help SDO take precise images of the star and “were the sun perfectly spherical, this would be a much simpler task”. But since the sun is dynamic pictures reveal distortions.
Lina Tran wrote on the website saying that it’s tough for SDO’s Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) to find the sun’s edge when perfectly still so its biannual roll lets each part of the camera look at the entire perimeter of the sun, thus capturing the sun’s shape more accurately.
Capturing the sun in this manner helps scientists better predict the sun’s activities that can create hazards for satellites and astronauts travelling to space.