Solar Orbiter: Closest ever pictures taken of the Sun


The arrow points to a “camp fire”. The circle at bottom-left gives an indication of size

箭头指向“篝火”。 左下角的圆圈表示尺寸

New pictures of the Sun taken just 77 million km (48 million miles) from its surface are the closest ever acquired by cameras.


They come from the European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter (SolO) probe, which was launched earlier this year.


Among the UK-assembled craft’s novel insights are views of mini-flares dubbed “camp fires”.


These are millionths of the size of the Sun’s giant flares that are routinely observed by Earth telescopes.


Whether these miniature versions are driven by the same mechanisms, though, is unclear. But these small flares could be involved in the mysterious heating process that makes the star’s outer atmosphere, or corona, far hotter than its surface.

但是,尚不清楚这些微型版本是否由相同的机制驱动。 但是,这些小耀斑可能参与了神秘的加热过程,该过程使恒星的外部大气或日冕比其表面温度高得多。

“The Sun has a relatively cool surface of about 5,500 degrees and is surrounded by a super-hot atmosphere of more than a million degrees,” explained Esa project scientist Daniel Müller.

Esa项目科学家丹尼尔·穆勒(Daniel Müller)解释说:“太阳表面温度相对较低,约5500度,周围是超过100万度的超高温大气”。

“There’s a theory put forward by the great US physicist Eugene Parker, who conjectured that if you should have a vast number of tiny flares this might account for an omnipresent heating mechanism that could make the corona hot.”


Whatever their role, the camp fires are certainly small – which may explain why they’ve been missed up to this point, says David Berghmans, from the Royal Observatory of Belgium and the principal investigator on the probe’s Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI).


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