The Solar Orbiter captured the latest powerful solar eruption. Credit: ESA

Spacecraft Films Massive Solar Eruption Jetting Out Millions of Miles Out Into Space

The Solar Orbiter observed the latest powerful Solar eruption, which turned out to be record-breaking.

The Solar Orbiter recorded the birth and evolution of a giant coronal mass ejection on the Sun, which became the largest such phenomenon observed in the same field of view along with the solar disk. The solar eruption was not directed to Earth and does not threaten our planet in any way.


On a quest to study the Sun

The launch of the Solar Orbiter into space took place in February 2020. The probe is equipped with ten scientific instruments, which are protected from overheating and charged particle flows by a multilayer shield.

The scientific program is designed for nine years, during which time the device will make 22 revolutions around the star and will be able to study coronal mass ejections, solar wind acceleration mechanisms, the formation of prominences and the solar corona, and in 2025-2029 for the first time explore the polar regions of the star and take images.

The Solar Orbiter captured the latest powerful solar eruption

Prominences are the most noticeable manifestations of solar activity in the corona of the star – these are rather large plasma formations that begin in the chromosphere and are characterized by increased density and lower temperature compared to the environment. Such structures can take various forms and exist for quite a long time (up to a month) in a quiescent state or be in an active state and transform into a coronal plasma ejection.

The study of the mechanism of formation and development of solar flares is of great interest, since plasma ejections from the surface of the Sun, directed towards the Earth, lead to powerful magnetic storms, disruption of communications, and malfunctions of electronic equipment onboard various spacecraft.

On February 15, 2022, a massive solar eruption appeared on our star, which turned into a coronal mass ejection, which was not directed towards the Earth. Its evolution was traced in the extreme ultraviolet wavelength range using the FSI (Full Sun Imager) instrument, which is part of the EUI instrument of the European Solar Orbiter probe. It is noteworthy that this prominence turned out to be the largest of those that were ever recorded in the same field of view along with the solar disk.

In addition to the Solar Orbiter, several other spacecraft also observed this emission – they were SOHO and Parker, tracking the Sun, as well as the BepiColombo station flying towards Mercury, which recorded a significant increase in the number of electrons, protons, and heavy ions near it. This allows you to learn more about the mechanisms of solar activity.

These were the first images that the Solar Orbiter beamed back to Earth in 2020 during the first approach to the star. Analysis helped astronomers identify numerous microflares on the Sun, which will help solve the problem of the anomalous heating of the corona. Credit: ESA
These were the first images that the Solar Orbiter beamed back to Earth in 2020 during the first approach to the star. Analysis helped astronomers identify numerous microflares on the Sun, which will help solve the problem of the anomalous heating of the corona. Credit: ESA

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Sources:

ESA. (n.d.). Giant solar eruption seen by Solar Orbiter.
Howell, E. (2022, February 18). Solar Orbiter spacecraft captures huge eruption on the sun (video). Space.com.
O’Neill, M. (2022, February 19). Massive solar eruption captured by Solar Orbiter Spacecraft. SciTechDaily.
Starr, M. (n.d.). The Sun has erupted non-stop all month, and there are more giant flares coming. 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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