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Sci-Tech

Watch a glorious HD timelapse of sunspot AR 12192

The sunspot that recently rolled across the surface of the sun while spewing out flares has been animated in a magnificent timelapse using NASA SDO images.

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Screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET

From October 14 to October 30, the largest sunspot seen in 24 years -- 129,000 kilometres (80,000 miles) in diameter -- tracked its way across the surface of the sun, spewing massive X-class and not-quite-so-massive M-class solar flares as it went.

While this was occurring, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft was snapping photos -- one image every 34 seconds. And now these images have been turned into a stunning timelapse of both sunspot and flares.

James Tyrwhitt-Drake, who runs science blog Infinity Imagined, crafted the timelapse out of over 17,000 images, comprising 72GB of SDO data. The video runs at a rate of about 52.5 minutes per second, condensing 16.5 days into just under 8 minutes, at 4K resolution.

In order to see the flares more clearly, Tyrwhitt-Drake rotated the images so that south is up, and the images used are in the ultraviolet 304 Angström wavelength, where heat is shown as very bright. And for the soundtrack, he used the sun's "heartbeat", processed from SOHO HMI data by Alexander G. Kosovichev.

A second video zooms in on the sunspot, with the Earth for scale, just to see how gargantuan this two-and-a-half week event really was.