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Current Affairs

Solar probe’s findings on Sun’s surface

Date: 21 July 2020 Tags: Space

Issue

A solar probe built by the European Space Agency and NASA has delivered the closest photos ever taken of the sun's surface, revealing a landscape rife with thousands of tiny solar flares and offering clues about the extreme heat of the outermost part of its atmosphere.

 

Background

The spacecraft, launched from Florida in February, snapped the images in late May using the probe's Extreme Ultraviolet Imager.

 

Details

  • The “campfires” are believed to be tiny explosions, called nano-flares, and could explain why the sun's outer shield, the corona, is 300 times hotter than the star's surface. 

  • The campfires are little relatives of the solar flares that we can observe from Earth, million or billion times smaller.

  • The sun might look quiet at the first glance, but when we look in detail, we can see those miniature flares everywhere we look.

  • Scientists typically have relied upon Earth-based telescopes for close-ups of the sun's surface. But Earth's atmosphere limits the amount of visible light needed to glean views as intimate as those obtained by the Solar Orbiter.

  • The spacecraft also carries plasma-sampling instruments to offer researchers further data. The combination really allows scientists to make links and connections to what's happening on the sun and what's happening at the spacecraft.

  • Solar Orbiter's primary mission of examining the sun's polar regions will help researchers understand the origins of the solar wind, charged particles that blast through our solar system, and affect satellites and electronics on Earth.