Huge coronary eruptions? Check. Rare views of the sun’s poles? Check. A glimpse of something dubbed a “solar hedgehog”? Strange but check. The European Space Agency has just released a wealth of new images and video collected by Solar Orbiter, its mission to observe the Sun closely and improve our understanding of its atmosphere during its first close approach to the Sun.
The close approach, known as perihelion, happened on March 26, bringing Solar Orbiter to about a third of the distance between the Sun and Earth. That is inside the orbit of Mercury. From this close range, the Solar Orbiter’s heat shield was heated to about 500 degrees Celsius – dangerous, but something the satellite was designed to handle exactly.
And the result of that hot flyby is one of the best looks we’ve ever had in the sun. Topping the list is a snapshot of a feature scientists call “hedgehogs” — a region of the Sun’s atmosphere teeming with hot and cold spikes of gas that jut out in all directions like the needles poking out of a hedgehog’s back.
Some other notable images and data include views of other solar flares erupting from the atmosphere and views of the sun’s north and south poles — regions that have rarely been observed before.
The data is more than just eye candy for the public. Scientists hope to use the observations to better understand how the Sun behaves and how mass ejections of energetic particles occur. One of Solar Orbiter’s biggest goals is to help scientists predict space weather events, such as coronal mass ejections, which can pose a major threat to our satellites and terrestrial power grids.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/solar-orbiter-mission-delivers-extremely-detailed-images-of-sun-and-solar-hedgehog-taken-during-close-approach?source=articles&via=rss Solar Orbiter mission provides extremely detailed images of the Sun and Solar Hedgehog captured at close approach