(Image source from: newscientist.com)
NASA Scientists on Thursday released the first closest images of Sun taken by the Solar Orbiter.
As per the official website, the European and NASA spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral in February 2020.
When observed, the Sun is dotted with countless little campfires throughout its surface.
The orbiter was about 48 million miles (77 million kilometres) away from the sun while it captured the images. It was about halfway between Earth and the Sun when the screenshots were taken.
Though NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is at much closer distance to Sun than the Solar Orbiter, it has become too close for the Parker to safely capture the images of Sun as its lone camera faces away from the Sun to observe the solar wind.
For this reason, the closest pictures of Sun taken by the solar orbiter are very precious. The first pictures show vibrant swirls of yellow and dark smoky gray surface of the Sun.
#SolarOrbiter has made its first close pass by the Sun, studying our star and space with a comprehensive suite of instruments — and the data is already revealing previously unseen details. This is #TheSunUpClose. https://t.co/rVMjz45DoY pic.twitter.com/YLKBXRNQZb— NASA Sun & Space (@NASASun) July 16, 2020
The campfires shown in the images were captured by Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) from Solar Orbiter’s first perihelion which is a point at its elliptical orbit closes to the Sun.
(Image source from: www.twitter.com)
Muller had described the multiple campfires dotting the Sun as the ones which are shooting into the corona or sun’s outer atmosphere.
These tiny campfires around the sun million times smaller and tiny but they might be heating the corona of Sun. These flares are making the Sun’s outer surface hundred times hotter than the actual solar surface.
However, it is not clear as to how these tiny campfires around Sun can brighten up the surface as observed by the spacecraft.
Scientists have named these mini explosions as ‘nanoflares’ which are the tiny sparks that can help in heating up the Sun’s outer atmosphere or the corona.
As part of the Solar orbiter mission by NASA, the orbiter is going to tilt its orbit in the coming years to provide unparalleled views of Sun’s poles. This orbiter is going to get even closer to Sun’s surface in the coming years.
(Image source from: esa.int)
According to the report from NASA, the orbiter flew within 48 million miles of the sun and all the 10 instruments of Solar orbiter flicked in capturing the first ever closes image of the Sun till date.
Solar orbiter has 6 imaging instruments and each of them studies different aspects of the Sun. These first images from the spacecraft indicate that the spacecraft is working well and the EUI data on the solar orbiter is hinting at the solar features that were never observed till now.
By Gayatri Yellayi