This clip shows how the motion of Earth and 2010 TK7 around the Sun translates into strange-looking loops. The first part shows the motion over a few years, the second part speeds up the clock to show the long-term motion. Credit: Athabasca University/CFHT.
Explanation: Sculpted by stellar winds and radiation, the star factory known as Messier 17 lies some 5,500 light-years away in the nebula-rich constellation Sagittarius. At that distance, this degree wide field of view spans almost 100 light-years, courtesy of the European Southern Observatory’s new VLT Survey Telescope and OmegaCAM. The sharp, false color image includes both optical and infrared data, following faint details of the region’s gas and dust clouds against a backdrop of central Milky Way stars. Stellar winds and energetic light from hot, massive stars formed from M17’s stock of cosmic gas and dust have slowly carved away at the remaining interstellar material producing the cavernous appearance and undulating shapes. M17 is also known as the Omega Nebula or the Swan Nebula.
A stalk-like prominence rose up above the Sun , then split into roughly four strands, that twisted themselves into a knot and dispersed over a two-hour period (July 12, 2011). As the close-up shows (in two wavelengths of extreme ultraviolet light), the effect is one of airy gracefulness. This clip also underscores the value from SDO of being able to view motion with an image taken every 10 seconds.