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NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which launched in February, has returned its first images of the Sun – and they are stunning. SDO has a five-year mission to “examine the sun’s magnetic field and also provide a better understanding of the role the sun plays in Earth’s atmospheric chemistry and climate.” Add to that “and to amaze Earthlings with detailed imagery of our sun” – check out this jaw-dropping video of a solar prominence:

Head to NASA’s official SDO webpage for links to more videos, imagery, information and press releases. You can also browse some of the first static images of the Sun taken by the new probe at the “SDO First Light” album on Flickr.

Emily Lakdawalla (@elakdawalla on Twitter) has coverage of this initial release of imagery on the excellent Planetary Society blog. She notes:

My favorite perspective on the new capability to observe our Sun that SDO affords us came from NASA SDO program scientist Madhulika Guhathakurta. “Even hardcore physicists like ourselves are struck with awe. You just want to know how these are created, how they are going to affect us, and how we can predict them. We can see events unfolding before our eyes. Theories are being discarded. We live in the outer atmosphere of this restless, magnetic star. It produces harmful particles and radiation that can alter life’s evolution.”

Nobody make Ra angry, okay?