A massive solar eruption recorded by the Solar Orbiter spacecraft

The idea of ​​Solar Orbiter and SOHO on a giant eruption is a close-up. Credit: Solar Orbiter / EUI and SOHO / LASCO, ESA and NASA teams

ESA /[{” attribute=””>NASA Solar Orbiter spacecraft has captured the largest solar prominence eruption ever observed in a single image together with the full solar disc.

Solar prominences are large structures of tangled magnetic field lines that keep dense concentrations of solar plasma suspended above the Sun’s surface, sometimes taking the form of arching loops. They are often associated with coronal mass ejections, which if directed towards Earth, can wreak havoc with our technology and everyday lives.

This last event occurred on February 15, 2022 and extended millions of kilometers into space. The emission of coronal mass was not directed to Earth. In fact, it is moving away from us. On the solar disk facing the spacecraft, which is currently approaching the Earth-Sun line, there are no signs of an eruption, which means it must have occurred from the side of the Sun facing us.

Solar Orbiter recorded a giant solar eruption

Full Sun Imager Extreme Ultraviolet Imager aboard the ESA / NASA Solar Orbiter spacecraft recorded a giant solar eruption on February 15, 2022. Solar flares are large structures made of intricate magnetic field lines that contain dense concentrations of solar plasma over the solar surface and often take the form of arcuate loops. This is the largest solar eruption ever observed in a single image along with a full solar disk. Credit: Solar Orbiter / EUI Team / ESA and NASA

The images were taken by the Full Sun Imager (FSI). Extreme ultraviolet visor (EUI) of Solar Orbiter. The FSI is designed to look at a full solar disk even during close passages of the Sun, such as during the upcoming perihelion pass next month. With the next approach on March 26, when the spacecraft will pass about 0.3 times the distance of the Sun-Earth, the Sun will fill a much larger part of the telescope’s field of vision. Currently, there are still many “viewing stocks” around the disk, which allows the FSI to capture stunning details at a distance of about 3.5 million kilometers, which is equivalent to five times the radius of the Sun.

Other space telescopes such as ESA / NASA SOHO satellite often observe such solar activity, but either closer to the Sun, or further by means of an cultivator that blocks the glare of the solar disk to provide a detailed reflection of the corona itself. Thus, the significance observed by the Solar Orbiter is the largest event of its kind to have been recorded in the same field of view along with the solar disk, opening up new possibilities to see how similar events connect to the solar disk for the first time. . At the same time, SOHO can provide additional views even over long distances.

Other space missions also observed the event, including NASA’s Parker solar probe. Next week, the Solar Orbiter and Parker Solar Probe will conduct special joint observations during Parker’s perihelion.

Even a spaceship not dedicated to solar science has felt its explosion – ESA /[{” attribute=””>JAXA BepiColombo mission, currently in the vicinity of Mercury’s orbit – detected a massive increase in the readings for electrons, protons, and heavy ions with its radiation monitor.

And while this event did not send a blast of deadly particles towards Earth, it is an important reminder of the unpredictable nature of the Sun and the importance of understanding and monitoring its behavior. Together with ESA’s future dedicated space weather mission Vigil, which will provide unique views of events like these, we can better protect our home planet from the Sun’s violent outbursts. A massive solar eruption recorded by the Solar Orbiter spacecraft

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