Solar Orbiter has now got us used to it well, showing us breathtaking images of the Sun like those of summer 2020, or more recently immortalizing the gigantic protuberance that has extended into space for millions of kilometers. But the last photo that the spacecraft sent to Earth is sensational in its detail and the strength and grandeur it transmits.
Now we can navigate on the Sun as we have never been able to do before: the image is zoomable and was taken on 7 March by theExtreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI): as ESA reports, “it is the highest resolution image of the entire disc of the Sun and of the outer atmosphere, of the corona ever taken“And it is not even the only one, since another photo – this time taken by the instrument Spectral Imaging of the Coronal Environment (SPICE) – is called the best in history.
What you see above is the photo taken by the EUI at a wavelength of 17 nanometers (extreme ultraviolet region of the spectrum): not just one, but a puzzle of 25 images which reconstruct the entire disk of the Sun, which otherwise cannot be framed from a distance of just 75 million kilometers (Solar Orbiter was exactly halfway between us and the star). In all, the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager took 4 hours to complete the multi-shot from 83 million pixels (9148×9112).
And if EUI allows us to admire the Sun in all its magnificent beauty – complete with protuberances ready to create geomagnetic storms – SPICE allows us to get to know our star even more closely: observing the different wavelengths of extreme ultraviolet light. coming from different atoms, it is capable of identify the individual layers of the solar atmosphere, from the corona to the chromosphere. The research will use this data to study the eruptions and to try to understand why the temperature increases as we move towards the outer layers (from 5,000 ° C on the surface to 1,000,000 ° C in the corona).
The record of the highest definition image of the Sun, however, is destined to be short-lived: Solar Orbiter is in the orbit of Mercury, and from there will take great new photosmore and more precise and detailed.