A new kind of television made headlines at the 2013 annual Consumer Electronics Show in early January, 2013 – Ultra High Definition TV. With four times as many pixels as a current high definition (HD) TV, viewers at the show reported being impressed with how crisp and vibrant the pictures appear.
This comes as no surprise to scientists who study the sun using NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). Its Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) and Helioseismic Magnetic Imager (HMI) instruments together capture an image almost once a second that is twice again as large as what the ultra high-def screens can display. Such detailed pictures show features on the sun that are as small as 200 miles across, helping researchers observe such things as what causes giant eruptions on the sun known as coronal mass ejections (CME) that can travel toward Earth and interfere with our satellites.
One concern about the new TVs? There's not yet enough content to make use of the opulent amount of pixels available. SDO can help with that. As of December, 2012, the telescope had captured 100 million images, which—if watched at a standard video rate of 30 frames per second—would mean a viewer could watch eight hours of sun movies a day for almost four months.
Explore further: SDO enters its semiannual eclipse season
More information: For HD imagery from NASA's SDO mission, visit: www.nasa.gov/sdo