First close-ups of the solar corona

The ESA solar probe Solar Orbiter has delivered the first images of its closest flyby to the sun at the end of March. The images show the hot atmosphere of the star, the sun’s corona, in particularly sharp detail, report the European Space Agency and the Max Planck Institute for Solar Research (MPS) in Göttingen.

The researchers evaluated the data from three measuring instruments at the same time: the Metis coronagraph, the Spectral Imaging of the Coronal Environment (SPICE) and the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI). The devices each record a specific area of ​​the sun: the coronagraph makes the outer layer of the corona visible by covering the solar disk. The SPICE instrument analyzes the presence of particles in the corona based on the light emitted from it. The EUI films the sun in extremely short-wave ultraviolet light. Among other things, the images show a mysterious structure with a diameter of 25,000 kilometers, from which spike-like plasma flows radiate in all directions. Therefore it was baptized »the hedgehog«. How the sun hedgehog arose and what is going on inside it will be examined next. So far, only part of the data recorded in March has reached Earth because the probe is currently far away.

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