Representational image
Representational imageNASA/SDO/AIA

A time-lapse video created by NASA shows images of the sun taken every day over the last three years as it rises towards solar maximum - the peak of solar activity in its 11-year cycle.

The images were taken by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which was launched in 2010 to help in understanding the causes of solar activity and its impact on Earth. SDO also studies how sun's magnetic field is generated and structured, and how this magnetic energy is released into the heliosphere in the form of energy particles and solar wind.

SDO monitors the sun daily and captures images every 12 seconds in 10 different wavelengths. The images found in the three-minute video are a collage of two such images taken every day over the course of three years.

"The images shown here are based on a wavelength of 171 angstroms, which is in the extreme ultraviolet range and shows solar material at around 600,000 kelvins (about 1.08 million F). In this wavelength it is easy to see the sun's 25-day rotation as well as how solar activity has increased over three years," NASA said in its news release.

The video shows the sun's solar activity increasing as it heads towards the peak of its 11-year solar cycle. The images have regularly caught solar flares and coronal mass ejections in the act. The sun appears to increase or decrease in size during the course of the video. It is because the distance between the SDO spacecraft and the sun varies over time.

Viewers can see partial eclipse by the moon (00:30;24), roll maneuver (00:31;16), X6.9 Flare - largest solar flare of this solar cycle (01:11;02), Comet Lovejoy, 15 December, 2011 (01:28;07), Roll Maneuver (01:42;29), transit of Venus, 5 June 2012 (01:51;07) and partial eclipse of the sun by the moon (02:28;13).

At the end of the video, it is shown how the sun appears in 4 different synchronized wavelengths: 171, 304, 193, and 4500.