Breathtaking! ESA’s Solar Orbiter captures closest ever image of Sun

The European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter is a satellite that closely observes the sun, the solar wind, and sun’s polar, in order to unravel the mysteries of the solar cycle. On March 26 this year, it snapped the Sun’s closest approach to it. Analysis of the data sent by it has revealed a breathtaking view of the powerful flares across the solar poles.

During its closest approach to the Sun, the satellite was inside the orbit of Mercury, the planet closest to the star. At this point, the heat-shields of this space engine observed a rise in temperature above 500 degrees Celcius. Fortunately, the human ingenuity kept the 10 science instruments as cool as possible.

With its mechanics, the orbiter, is constantly trying to provide unprecedented insight into how our local star ‘works’. According to ESA, the closer the spacecraft gets to the Sun, the finer the details the remote sensing instrument can see. This time, the satellite managed to capture solar flares and even an Earth-directed coronal mass ejection.

A mysterious phenomenon on the solar pole was observed, and scientist have named it ‘the hedgehog.’ It was captured by the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) instrument, which takes high-resolution images of the solar corona, the lower layers of the Sun’s atmosphere.

It is yet to be known how these hedgehogs were formed in the Sun’d atmosphere. David Berghmans, Principal Investigator (PI) of the EUI, however, called the images ‘breathtaking’ and said that this phenomenon will keep them busy for years as it stretches 25,000 kilometres across the Sun and has a multitude of spikes of hot and colder gas that reach out in all directions.

The phenomenon occurred, are proved to be of twice the diameter of Earth and covers a small fraction of the sun’s diameter of 1.4 million kilometres. This 11-year-long solar cycle and the activities that dominate these periods, including solar flares, sunspots, and CMEs, can be understood by learning more about the the solar pole, said experts.

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