This X-Ray movie of the sun, produced by Dr. Steven Hill of NOAA’s Space Environment Center, is from October 19, 2003 through November 4, 2003. The data for it is from GOES Solar X-Ray Imager, SXI, which is an instrument attached to the GOES 12 satellite. The Space Environment Center receives a stream of the data which it then uses to make space weather alerts and forecast services. The SXI collects one image per minute and varies the exposure settings to allow for three different views to see coronal structures, active regions and solar flares.
The corona is the outermost layer of the sun. The dark regions near the poles are coronal holes. These are areas where the sun’s magnetic field extends into space allowing the hot gas to escape, so those areas are cooler, explaining the darker color. The lightest features on here are solar flares which are violent explosions on the surface of the sun. Solar flares can emit radiation which interferes with satellites near Earth. The origin of solar flares is usually near sunspots. Another notable feature on the surface of the sun is the rotation pattern. The sun does not rotate uniformly; the equator rotates faster than the poles and even those speeds vary some. This erratic rotation pattern provides a good idea of the gassy composition of the sun.