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The Solar Dynamics Observatory observes the sun generate an X2-class solar flare (Feb. 16, 2011). | NASA/SDO
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Simmering Solar Views from SDO: Photos

It's time to celebrate three years of the mind-blowing views NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory has given us.

February 12, 2013
7:30 PM EST
The sun celebrated the New Year's Eve with a solar flare. | NASA/SDO
A series of photos captured by the SDO as the Transit of Venus progressed on June 5, 2012. | NASA/SDO
Venus' enigmatic 'aureole' can be used to measure the temperature of the planet's upper atmosphere during the Venus Transit on June 5, 2012. | NASA/SDO
A long-lasting double flare and a coronal mass ejection erupted from the Sun over a five-hour period (Feb. 5-6, 2013). | NASA/SDO
An unusual ring-shaped prominence that laying flat above the sun's surface (Jan. 31, 2012) | NASA/SDO
Six images from SDO, chosen to show a representative image about every six months, track the rising level of solar activity since the mission first began to produce consistent images in May, 2010. | NASA/SDO
Multi-million degree coronal loops populate the sun's lower corona -- a key component of the sun's atmospheric heating phenomenon. | NASA/SDO
A solar prominance creates an optical illusion in the sun's atmosphere. | NASA/SDO
A mass of plasma at the very top of the sun rose up from the surface, streamed along, darted back and forth, and finally rose up and broke away into space (Nov. 19-21, 2012). | NASA/SDO
NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) spots an X1.1 flare through its high-definition eyes (July 2012). | NASA/SDO
The view through the SDO's AIA 131A filter, sensitive to superheated plasma of several million degrees Kelvin (Celsius) high in the sun's corona, minutes after the flare erupted on July 12, 2012. | NASA/SDO
On Sept. 11, 2012, the SDO captured the Earth eclipsing the sun during the observatory's "eclipse season." | NASA/SDO
A massive explosion on the sun kicked up an unusual coronal mass ejection (June 2011) | NASA/SDO
Comet Lovejoy dashes from behind the sun after a death-defying dive (Dec. 2011). | NASA/SDO
The SDO takes a close-up view of a trio of sunspots in Active Region 1504, the site of seveal M-class flares in June, 2012. | NASA/SDO