Solar Orbiter photographs Solar Explosions
The European Space Agency’s and NASA’s Solar Orbiter has started transmitting high-resolution photographs of the solar surface and super hot corona. Small-scale explosions never seen before have been digitally captured by the Orbiter spacecraft. At present, the spacecraft is about 77 million miles away from the Sun. The digitally captured tiny solar explosions or nanoflares are very similar to solar flares, except for their overall magnitude. When large solar flares explode, they release energy equivalent to that released by billions of nuclear weapons. Contrary to scientists’ expectations, the sun’s atmosphere, or Corona, is hotter than the Sun’s surface. Whereas the surface of the Sun can reach temperatures of several thousand degrees, the Sun’s atmosphere or the solar corona can easily reach temperatures of the order of millions of degrees. One way to explain this apparent discrepancy is to investigate the exact mechanism through which the solar flares explode and spit out massive amounts of energy into the sun’s atmosphere, thereby heating up the corona up to a million degrees. The Orbiter spacecraft has been deployed to undertake studies of huge astronomical significance.
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