The European Solar Orbiter spacecraft has taken the closest images ever to the Sun, revealing the finest details of our star’s outer atmosphere, the corona.
Pictures were taken on March 7, when solar orbit It was exactly halfway between a land and the the sunat a distance of 46 million miles (75 million kilometers) from both bodies.
One of the tools that ran during this opportunity was the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI), which sees being In the higher energy part of the ultraviolet component of the electromagnetic spectrum.
The European Space Agency (ESA) said that due to the solar orbiter’s proximity to the sun, the EUI had to take 25 single shots to image the entire solar disk. in the current situation. The European Space Agency said the EUI team took four hours to capture all the clips, with each shot requiring a 10-minute period, including the time required to reset the spacecraft.
Related: Solar orbiter spacecraft captures massive eruption of the sun (video)
And better pictures will come soon. Since spacecraft Launching in February 2020, ground control teams are gradually tightening the solar orbiter’s path around the star at the center of our solar system. while the two were previous trough The points in the spacecraft’s elliptical orbit closest to the Sun occurred at about half the distance between the Sun and Earth (47.8 million miles or 77 million km), and Solar Orbiter is now heading for a much closer encounter.
On Saturday (March 26) at 7:50 a.m. EDT (1150 GMT), the spacecraft will pass the Sun at a distance of just 30 million miles (48.3 million km), about a third of the distance between the Sun and Earth, according to the agency. European Aerospace ESA. Orbital Project Deputy Scientist Yiannis Zoganlis told Space.com.
The distance between the Solar Orbiter from the star will then begin to increase again, but its future close lanes will bring it even closer: 26 million miles (42 million km) from the surface of the Sun. No other spacecraft equipped with a camera has come this close to the Sun. NASA’s Parker Solar Probe dives deeper toward the star, even A few million miles Far away, but due to the high temperatures at those distances, the spacecraft cannot carry a camera facing the sun.
During the March 7 imaging campaign, Solar Orbiter operators also took images using the spacecraft’s Coronal Environment Spectroscopy (SPICE) instrument, which revealed a temperature gradient throughout the Sun’s atmosphere. The strange thermal behavior of the heliosphere is one of the star’s greatest mysteries. Instead of getting cooler with distance, the sun atmosphere It is actually hotter at higher altitudes.
While the Sun’s surface temperature is “only” 9,000 degrees Fahrenheit (5,000 degrees Celsius), the temperature of the outer atmosphere, the corona, rises to nearly 1.8 million degrees Fahrenheit (one million degrees Celsius).
SPICE measurements revealed individual layers of the Sun’s atmosphere, starting in the lowest layer, the chromosphere, at 18,000 degrees Fahrenheit (10,000 degrees Celsius), all the way up to 1,130,000 degrees Fahrenheit (630,000 degrees Celsius) in parts of the corona.
In images obtained by the Solar Orbiter during its first close pass in June 2020, scientists have discovered miniature solar flares dubbed campfires. These fires were predicted by the recently deceased solar physicist Eugene ParkerThis could explain the mysterious heating, scientists believe.
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