The brand new most detailed image of the Sun. Credit: ESA

Solar Orbiter Spacecraft Snaps Never-Before-Seen “Close-up” Image of Our Sun

The European Solar Orbiter probe has obtained the most detailed image of the full disk of the Sun and its corona to date. It is assembled from 25 separate frames and shows prominences and active regions visible in the ultraviolet.

See the most complete image of the Sun to date

The Solar Orbiter was launched into space at the beginning of 2020 and is designed to study the Sun. The scientific program of the station is designed for nine years and it has multiple main tasks.

Such include the study of coronal mass ejections, the formation of prominences, the determination of the magnetic field strength in active regions of the equatorial belt of the Sun, the study of the corona of a star and the mechanisms of solar wind acceleration. In addition, the device will be able for the first time in history to observe the polar regions of the Sun and receive their direct full images sometime between 2025 and 2029.

At the moment it has already made 4 approaches to the Sun out of 22, changing the inclination of its orbit with the help of gravitational maneuvers near Venus.

EUI mosaic image of the Sun. The earth is inserted for scale. Credit: ESA, NASA, G. Pelouze / IAS
EUI mosaic image of the Sun. The earth is inserted for scale. Credit: ESA, NASA, G. Pelouze / IAS

On March 7, 2022, the Solar Orbiter, located at a distance of approximately 75 million kilometers from the Sun, received a number of new images in the extreme ultraviolet range. From 25 individual frames taken by the EUI (Extreme Ultraviolet Imager) tool in 4 hours of work, the scientists then assembled a mosaic that contains more than 83 million pixels. This is the most detailed image of the full disk of the Sun and its corona to date.

In addition to the record-breaking detailed mosaic, the researchers published images of the Sun obtained using the SPICE (Spectral Imaging of the Coronal Environment) instrument at different wavelengths corresponding to the emission of ionized carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and neon at different temperatures. Each of the images is also a mosaic of 25 individual frames.

Images of the Sun taken by SPICE in the emission lines of hydrogen, carbon, oxygen and neon. Credit: ESA, NASA, G. Pelouze / IAS
Images of the Sun taken by SPICE in the emission lines of hydrogen, carbon, oxygen and neon. Credit: ESA, NASA, G. Pelouze / IAS

Astronomers obtained the most detailed image of the photosphere of our star in 2020

In order to better predict space weather phenomena and the impact of solar activity on Earth, scientists need to understand the dynamics of magnetic fields on the Sun. In particular, astronomers want to study the smallest magnetic structures on the Sun and accurately measure the strength and direction of the magnetic field near the photosphere.

The most advanced ground-based solar telescope – is located in Hawaii DKIST (Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope), which has a four-meter primary mirror and an adaptive optics system.

Image of the solar photosphere obtained with DKIST. The inset shows the size of the state of Texas for comparison. Credit: NSO/NSF/AURA
Image of the solar photosphere obtained with DKIST. The inset shows the size of the state of Texas for comparison. Credit: NSO/NSF/AURA

This image from DKIST at 789 nanometers shows a section of the photosphere, 36500 × 36500 kilometers in size, filled with convective cells (granules), in which the hotter plasma first rises up the center of the granule, and then descends along the edges.

In the dark edges of the granules, bright points are visible, which are the places where magnetic field lines emerge from the deeper layers of the Sun into the corona. Such objects have not previously been observed with sufficient clarity. The smallest structures that can be seen in the image are up to 30 kilometers in size.


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Sources:

Christian, J. (2022, March 28). Scientists release stunning picture taken really close to the sun. Futurism.
ESA. (n.d.). Zooming into the sun with solar orbiter.
Howell, E. (2022, March 26). Solar Orbiter spacecraft takes its closest look at the sun. Space.com.
NSO. (n.d.). First image from NSF’s Inouye Solar Telescope!: NSO – national solar observatory.
Starr, M. (n.d.). Feast your eyes on ‘unprecedented’ New pics revealed of our sun. ScienceAlert.

Written by Vladislav Tchakarov

Hello, my name is Vladislav and I am glad to have you here on Curiosmos. As a history student, I have a strong passion for history and science, and the opportunity to research and write in this field on a daily basis is a dream come true.

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