3D video of the Sun (and coronal mass ejections)

Whoa whoa whoa… check out this “full disk observation” of the sun (at EUVI 304 Angstroms) which was created by STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory), which is “the third mission in NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Probes program (STP). This two-year mission will employ two nearly identical space-based observatories — one ahead of Earth in its orbit, the other trailing behind — to provide the first-ever stereoscopic measurements to study the Sun and the nature of its coronal mass ejections, or CMEs.” Higher resolution download available here.

The flares you see in the video are what the program is actually studying (there’s an especially sweet one in the middle of the lower half around ~42 seconds in). Those are CME’s:

Coronal mass ejections (CMEs), are powerful eruptions that can blow up to 10 billion tons of the Sun’s atmosphere into interplanetary space. Traveling away from the Sun at speeds of approximately one million mph (1.6 million kph), CMEs can create major disturbances in the interplanetary medium and trigger severe magnetic storms when they collide with Earth’s magnetosphere.

Large geomagnetic storms directed towards Earth can damage and even destroy satellites, are extremely hazardous to Astronauts when outside of the protection of the Space Shuttle performing Extra Vehicular Activities (EVAs), and they have been known to cause electrical power outages.

Pretty heady stuff, but man oh man, the images they’re getting are amazing. A lot of what you’ll see in STEREO’s gallery are kind of old (~2007), but I reckon another batch will be coming out soon. As always, you’ll need a pair of anaglyph glasses to see these in 3D. Get your free pair now →