25 2022

Solar Orbiter’s highest resolution image ever of the Sun’s south pole

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The Sun’s south pole as seen by the ESA/NASA Solar Orbiter spacecraft on 30 March 2022, just four days after the spacecraft passed its closest point yet to the Sun. These images were recorded by the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) at a wavelength of 17 nanometers.

Many scientific secrets are thought to lie hidden at the solar poles. The magnetic fields that create the great but temporary active regions on the Sun get swept up to the poles before being swallowed back down into the Sun where they are thought to form the magnetic seeds for future solar activity.

The lighter areas of the image are mostly created by loops of magnetism that rise upwards from the solar interior. These are called closed magnetic field lines because particles find it hard to cross them, and become trapped, emitting the extreme ultraviolet radiation that EUI is specially designed to record.

The darker areas are regions where the Sun’s magnetic field lies open, and so the gasses can escape into space, creating the solar wind.

Starting in 2025, Solar Orbiter will use the gravitational pull of Venus to gradually crank up the inclination of its orbit. This will allow the spacecraft’s instruments to investigate the solar poles from a more top-down viewpoint.

The colour on this image has been artificially added because the original wavelength detected by the instrument is invisible to the human eye.

Source by Agenzia spaziale Europea

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