The corona, the gaseous blanket that envelops the star, has been shown in the most detailed photograph of the sun and its outer atmosphere ever taken. By heating the exposed tissue of the eye, the sun’s glare and radiation can cause retinal burns. However, high-powered telescopes may do the dirty work for you by focusing on the brightest object in the sky.
The Solar Orbiter, a joint mission of the European Space Agency and NASA launched in February 2020, captured the new image. It was photographed from 47 million miles distant, within Mercury’s orbit.
The image is a mosaic of 25 distinct images that have been overlaid to produce one high-resolution spectacle that depicts the solar system’s fiercely raging fire. The corona of the sun reaches about 2 million degrees Fahrenheit.
The corona is typically obscured by the intense brightness of the sun’s surface, making it impossible to observe without specialised equipment. That’s one of the reasons why the new shot, which was revealed this week, is so special.
The orbiter will study the sun’s magnetic activity and solar wind, a stream of gases released by the sun that creates “space weather.” Space weather, which may disrupt power grids, telecommunications networks, and GPS systems, is practically impossible to predict.
Furthermore, the orbiter aims to figure out what causes the corona’s extreme heat.
The Parker Solar Probe, a NASA spacecraft, also studies the sun. The probe came closer to the solar than any other spacecraft last year, falling into the corona barely 6.5 million miles from the sun’s surface. During the April 2021 flyby, Parker covered 90 to 95 percent of the distance between Earth and the star, and it’s expected to come a lot closer.