NASA's Parker Solar Probe entered the Sun's corona and astronomers shared a video from the encounter. Credit: NASA

NASA’s Spacecraft Reveals New Solar Mysteries

NASA's Parker Solar Probe delves deep into a powerful solar eruption, unveiling crucial interactions with interplanetary dust and potential impacts on space weather predictions.


On September 5, 2022, the Parker Solar Probe achieved an extraordinary milestone, traversing one of the mightiest coronal mass ejections (CMEs) ever documented. This feat, coupled with the recent revelations in The Astrophysical Journal, confirmed a two-decade-old hypothesis about the dynamic between CMEs and the dust circling our sun.

Interactions Between CMEs and Dust: A 20-Year Quest

CMEs are vast solar flare-ups from the sun’s external atmosphere known to influence space weather. Such eruptions, by interfering with satellites and technological systems, can potentially disrupt earthly communications and even result in power failures. By understanding how these solar events mingle with interplanetary dust, we can better anticipate their velocity and estimate their arrival on Earth.

“It was theorized back in 2003 that CMEs could engage with this space dust, even transporting it outward. Parker has finally witnessed this theory in action, showcasing a CME acting much like a vacuum, absorbing the dust in its trajectory,” elaborated Guillermo Stenborg, a leading astrophysicist at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), the masterminds behind the spacecraft.

The Role and Origin of the Cosmic Dust

This pervasive interstellar dust, derived from comets, asteroids, and planets, illuminates the sky in a phenomenon termed as the zodiacal light. While the CME managed to scatter this dust nearly 6 million miles from the sun, the void was promptly filled by the omnipresent cosmic dust.


Remote observations often struggle to capture the nuances of dust dynamics post a CME event. Yet, with Parker’s up-close inspections, insights into related solar activities, including coronal dimming, have surfaced.

The probe’s WISPR camera disclosed the interaction through diminished brightness levels in its imagery. This decrease arose from the reflective nature of interplanetary dust that heightens brightness where prevalent.

“To discern this brightness dip, we compared WISPR’s brightness levels across multiple orbits, effectively filtering out usual brightness fluctuations,” commented Stenborg.

Given this phenomenon’s association solely with the September 5 event, Stenborg and his colleagues suggest that only the most intense CMEs might lead to such dust displacement.


Delving into the mechanics of these interactions can redefine space weather forecasting. As scientists commence their journey to decode the influence of space dust on CMEs, Parker gears up for its upcoming close sun encounters, further fueled by the imminent solar maximum – a phase marked by intensified solar activities. This peak in solar events promises more chances to witness such rare interactions, deepening our understanding of their potential impacts on Earth and the cosmos.

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Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

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