Extraordinary footage from the European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter (which still hasn’t reached its closest distance to the sun) showing surface features of our star including phenomena called “campfires” – omnipresent miniature eruptions that could be contributing to the high temperatures of the solar corona and the origin of the solar wind – too small to have been captured by previous instruments.
And that’s not all. To wit:
“Right now, we are in the part of the 11-year solar cycle when the Sun is very quiet,” says Sami Solanki, the director of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Gottingen, Germany, and PHI Principal Investigator. “But because Solar Orbiter is at a different angle to the Sun than Earth, we could actually see one active region that wasn’t observable from Earth. That is a first. We have never been able to measure the magnetic field at the back of the Sun.”
It gets better. As the mission progresses, the Solar Orbiter’s image resolution capabilities will roughly double.