March 21, 2023


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The shape of Mercury as a shadow crossing in front of the sun was captured by the European Solar Probe | sorae Portal site to space

[▲ تم التقاط حركة الزئبق بواسطة جهاز تصوير الأشعة فوق البنفسجية (EUI) للمسبار الشمسي “Solar Orbiter” (فيلم)]
(Credit: ESA and NASA / Solar Orbiter / EUI Team

This is using data obtained on January 3, 2023 by the “Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI)” installed on the European Space Agency’s (ESA) solar probe “Solar Orbiter”. A short video has been created. Can you see the black shadow moving from the center to the right against the background of the solar atmosphere captured by EUI?

The shadow’s identity is Mercury, which orbits the Sun at an average distance of about 0.39 AU (about 58 million km). When Mercury and Venus, which are within Earth’s orbit, pass between the Sun and Earth, Earth may notice that Mercury and Venus cross the Sun. On this day, Mercury passed between the “artificial planet” Solar Orbiter and the Sun, so it was possible to observe the passage of Mercury from solar orbit. Mercury’s transit as seen from the solar module has been recorded not only by EUI, but also by the Polarizing and Helical Imaging (PHI) instrument.

[▲ صورة متحركة لعطارد يمر عبر الشمس تم التقاطها بواسطة الاستقطاب الشمسي المداري والتصوير الهليسيزمي (PHI) (Credit: ESA & NASA / Solar Orbiter / PHI Team)]

A transit refers to when Mercury or Venus crosses in front of the Sun, but the general phenomenon in which another celestial body crosses in front of another celestial body is called a transit, and it is a powerful tool for finding planets outside the solar system. means.

It’s easy to understand from the motion picture of PHI posted earlier, but when a transit occurs, the celestial body crossing the front partially obscures the distant celestial body. If the orb to be hidden is a planet and the orb to be hidden is a fixed star, the brightness of the star will be dimmed slightly by the amount the planet is masking. This will be repeated several times in the same cycle. High-resolution observations of planetary transit cycles and starlight curves (curves that show the luminosity of celestial bodies that change over time) can provide indirect information such as a planet’s orbital period, its diameter, and the presence or absence of an atmosphere. You can get it.

This type of observation method is called the transit method, and includes NASA’s Kepler space telescope (operation ended in 2018), the exoplanet exploration satellite TESS, and the European Space Agency’s Cubes space telescope.

[▲ فيديو يوضح كيف يتغير سطوع نجم بسبب عبور كوكب خارج المجموعة الشمسية]
(Credit: ESO/L. Road)


  • Image credit: ESA, NASA, Solar Orbiter / EUI Team, Solar Orbiter / PHI Team
  • ESA The black disk of Mercury helps to increase the visibility of the Solar Orbiter

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