Temporal coloring

I downloaded a few hours of AIA data in 171 Angstroms for another project. (For the non-solar people, AIA is the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly aboard NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. It takes pictures of the Sun in extreme ultraviolet.) I started playing around with it, and I ended up making the hypnotic and enchanting, at least in my opinion, video at the end of this post.

It was a simple process. Just combine different images in time as the colors of an RGB image. For this video, I set the current time as red, an image five minutes in the future as green, and an image ten minutes into the future as blue. It makes a kind of cool shimmery effect. Most of the image is white because the Sun didn’t change dramatically on that timescale, but the dynamic regions really pop with color.

Each frame is separated by 12 seconds. So it’s four hours of data. If you want to download data of your own, check out this SunPy example. It’s easier to fetch a lot of image cutouts instead of the full images.

It’s pretty, but I don’t know that it has much scientific value. Just a little artsy representation of some amazing scientific data.