Astronomers from the University of Central Lancashire have delivered the closest look yet at the extremely hot outer corona layer of the Sun, revealing never-before-seen structures.
The new high-resolution images reveal magnetic threads up to 500 kilometers (311 miles) wide, with million-degree plasma flowing within them. This discovery gives us new information of the intense atmosphere of our Sun.
The original data were captured by the High-Resolution Coronal Imager (Hi-C) in 2018. As the name implies, this telescope is designed to take high-resolution images of our Sun’s corona; Hi-C can spot objects on the Sun just 70 kilometers (43 miles) in size, or 0.01 percent the total size of the star.
“Until now solar astronomers have effectively been viewing our closest star in ‘standard definition’, whereas the exceptional quality of the data provided by the Hi-C telescope allows us to survey a patch of the Sun in ‘ultra-high definition’ for the first time,” said solar physicist Robert Walsh from the University of Central Lancashire.
“If you are watching a football match on television in standard definition, the football pitch looks green and uniform. Watch the same game in ultra-HD and the individual blades of grass can jump out at you – and that’s what we’re able to see with the Hi-C images.“
This ultra-HD gives us a clear view of previously unseen parts of the Sun and this can tell us more about how exactly the Sun’s mysterious magnetic atmosphere is made up and how does it work
The magnetic field and plasma ropes that make up the outer layer of our home star are an important part of the mechanism that produces solar storms which is an activity that will affect us on Earth. We need to understand how it works so that we can plan on it.
There’s still a lot we don’t know about the structures in the outer layers of the Sun, and there are a lot of weird happenings in close proximity to the star, but recent advances in science and telescopy are starting to peel away some of the layers of mystery.
Further research is needed to understand the newly revealed plasma threads and their function, for now, seeing them itself is a big step in this research.
The next Hi-C mission should tell us even more about the working of Suns’ Corona, as the detailed data can be combined with images coming from other telescopes to build up an increasingly clear portrait of the Sun.
“This is a fascinating discovery that could better inform our understanding of the flow of energy through the layers of the Sun and eventually down to Earth itself,” said solar physicist Tom Williams, from the University of Central Lancashire.
“This is so important if we are to model and predict the behavior of our life-giving star.”
The research was published in the Astrophysical Journal.Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in