On March 25, 2022, the ESA/NASA Solar Orbiter spacecraft closed in on the Sun, getting ready to study it during a flyby. Its Metis coronagraph instrument, which blocks out the Sun so the spacecraft can study its outer atmosphere, recorded an image of something strange: a distorted, S-shaped “kink” in a small area of plasma flowing from the Sun. It was a magnetic solar switchback.Continue reading “Solar Orbiter Captures the First Ever Image of a Magnetic Solar Switchback on the Sun”
We’ve all seen the gorgeous images and videos of coronal loops. They’re curved magnetic forms that force brightly glowing plasma to travel along their path. They arch up above the Sun, sometimes for thousands of kilometres, before reconnecting with the Sun again.
But a new study says that some of what we’re seeing aren’t loops at all. Instead, they’re a type of optical illusion. Do we know the Sun as well as we think we do?Continue reading “Coronal Loops Might Not Be Loops At All”
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Earlier this week the Sun erupted with a huge explosion, blasting solar particles millions of kilometers into space. The team for the ESA/NASA Solar Orbiter spacecraft says the blast is the largest solar prominence eruption ever observed in a single image together with the full solar disc.
Luckily for us here on Earth, the eruption on February 15, 2022 occurred on the farside of the Sun, the side facing away from our planet. But ESA and NASA predict geomagnetic storms are possible in the next few days as the active region on the Sun responsible for the blast turns toward us.Continue reading “A Colossal Flare Erupted From the Far Side of the Sun”
Solar flares are complex phenomena. They involve plasma, electromagnetic radiation across all wavelengths, activity in the Sun’s atmosphere layers, and particles travelling at near light speed. Spacecraft like NASA’s Solar and Heliophysics Observatory (SOHO) and the Parker Solar Probe shed new light on the Sun’s solar flares.
But it was a Japanese-led mission called Yohkoh that spotted an unusual solar flare in 1999. This flare displayed a downward flowing motion toward the Sun along with the normal outward flow. What caused it?
A team of researchers think they’ve figured it out.Continue reading “During a Solar Flare, Dark Voids Move Down Towards the Sun. Now We Know Why”
For the first time ever, a spacecraft has flown through the Sun’s outer atmosphere. The Parker Solar Probe passed through the out portion of the Sun’s corona in April of 2021, passing directly through streamers of solar plasma.
And by the way …. there’s video of what the spacecraft “saw.”Continue reading “Parker Solar Probe Flies Through the Sun’s Outer Atmosphere for the First Time”
Last summer, the Parker Solar Probe flew past Venus on its way to fly closer to the Sun. In a bit of a surprise, one of the spacecraft’s cameras, the Wide-field Imager for Parker Solar Probe, or WISPR, captured a striking image of the planet’s nightside from 7,693 miles (12380 km) away.
The surprise of the image was that WISPR – a visible light camera – seemingly captured Venus’ surface in infrared light.Continue reading “Parker Solar Probe Captured Images of Venus on its way to the Sun”
The Solar Orbiter spacecraft is heading towards the center of the Solar System, with the goal of capturing the closest images ever taken of our Sun. But during its flight, the spacecraft turned back to look towards home. It captured Venus, Earth, and Mars together, as seen from about 155.7 million miles (250.6 million kilometers) away.Continue reading “Solar Orbiter Caught Venus, Earth and Mars in One of its Photos”
One of the best things about astronomy is that it’s a never-ending supply of awesome visuals. Almost every new mission or telescope provides new ways to see the universe, and when those are translated visually they can offer absolutely stunning images of some of the most interesting places in that universe. Now humanity is starting to process the images from one of the newer missions to grace the heavens: the European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter. And boy are those images breathtaking.Continue reading “Pictures are coming in from Solar Orbiter”
A new image from the world’s largest solar observatory shows a spectacular, high resolution view of a gigantic sunspot. The sunpspot measures about 16,000 km (10,000 miles) across, large enough that Earth could fit inside.Continue reading “A Sunspot Seen by the Most Powerful Solar Telescope in the World”
For a quarter of a century, the ESA-NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) has been essential in helping scientists understand the heart of our Solar System, the Sun. The SOHO mission launched 25 years ago this week, and to celebrate, ESA compiled a wonderful mosaic of images, and NASA put together a remarkable SOHO “greatest hits” timelapse video.Continue reading “25 Years of Solar Cycles in One Incredible SOHO Mosaic”