They write about the details of their findings in the pages natural astronomy, showing that the lessons learned can be translated into information about the solar wind. Ultraviolet images of the central part of the sun’s corona were key to data collection.
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The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has been monitoring this structure since 1995, thanks to which experts can track and predict space weather. Unfortunately, the instruments used for this purpose are not advanced enough to see the region where the solar wind originates from.
We’ve known about the flow of the solar wind since the 1950s. As the solar wind develops, it can condition space weather and influence things like power grids, satellites, and astronauts. The origin and structure of the solar wind itself remains somewhat of a mystery. While we have a basic understanding of the processes, we had never had such observations before, so we had to work through gaps in the information.
explains one of the study’s authors, Dan Seaton
However, it is worth explaining what the solar corona is. In addition to the already mentioned information about the composition of the outer layer of the atmosphere of our star, it is also important that the temperatures in this region are very high. Since this is where the solar wind originates from, a better understanding of the principles that govern the corona will help predict its impact on Earth. Interestingly, the best view of the sun’s corona occurs during a total solar eclipse.
The solar corona is the outermost layer of our star’s atmosphere
Given the limited capabilities of the tools used thus far, Seton and colleagues decided to use a different tool, known as SUVI (solar ultraviolet imaging). Through observations, astronomers have concluded that the solar wind is emitted into space through interactions within structures that release stored magnetic energy.
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Since observations on this scale have not been made before, we can talk about a breakthrough. More so that more missions are planned. For example, within the framework of PUNCH (Pole Scale of Uniformity of the Corona and Heliosphere), scientists want to better understand the process by which the solar wind arises from the outer corona of the Sun. The entire project is expected to start in 2023.
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