June 23, 2024


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The orbiting solar module captures the Sun's delicate corona in stunning detail [Video]

The orbiting solar module captures the Sun's delicate corona in stunning detail [Video]

Solar Orbiter's mission is to study the Sun up close and at high latitudes, provide the first images of the Sun's poles and explore the heliosphere. Source: ESA/ATG medialab

Stunning close-up views of the Sun reveal its dynamic magnetic structure and extreme temperatures, captured by the European Space Agency's Solar Orbiter in collaboration with… NASAParker Solar Probe.

This ever-changing landscape (see video below) is what the sun looks like up close. the European Space Agency's Solar orbit The transition from the Sun's lower atmosphere to the hotter outer corona is depicted. The hair-like structures are composed of charged gas (plasma), tracing the magnetic field lines emerging from the interior of the sun.

The brightest areas are about a million degrees CelsiusWhile cold matter appears dark because it absorbs radiation.

This video was recorded on September 27, 2023, by the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) instrument on Solar Orbiter. At that time, the spacecraft was about a third of Earth's distance from the sun, heading for its closest approach of 27 million miles (43 million km) on October 7, 2023.

On the same day this video was recorded, NASA's Parker Solar Probe was just scanning 4.51 million miles (7.26 million kilometers) From the surface of the sun. Instead of imaging the Sun directly, Parker measured particles and magnetic fields in the Sun's corona and in the solar wind. This was an ideal opportunity for the two missions to team up, as ESA-led Solar Orbiter's remote sensing instruments monitored the source region of the solar wind that would later flow through the Parker Solar Probe.

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Spot moss, spicules, eruption, and rain

Bottom left corner: An interesting feature that can be seen throughout this film is the bright gas forming delicate lace-like patterns across the sun. This is called coronal “moss”. It usually appears around the base of large coronal loops that are too hot or too weak to be seen with the chosen instrument settings.

On the solar horizon: Towers of gas, known as spicules, reach high above the sun's chromosphere. It can reach an altitude of 10,000 km (6,200 mi).

Center around 0:22: A small eruption in the center of the field of view, with cold material rising to the top before most of it falls back to the bottom. Don't be fooled by the use of the word “small” here: this eruption is bigger than Earth!

Left of center around 0:30: “Cold” coronal rain (probably less than 10,000°C/18,000°F) appears dark against the bright background of large coronal rings (about 1 million degrees Celsius). Rain consists of high-density clumps of plasma that retreat toward the Sun under the influence of gravity.

This is the same video as above but without the captions. Image credit: ESA/NASA/Solar Orbiter/EUI Team