NASA and the European Space Agency published on Thursday the closest images ever captured of the Sun’s surface. The records were made by the Solar Orbiter spacecraft and show a hitherto unknown phenomenon: small flames on the star’s surface.
They are millions or even billions of times smaller and less intense than the massive eruptions that occur periodically on the Sun. NASA and ESA scientists believe the discovery could help astronomers deepen their studies of the solar atmosphere, the Corona.
The images were captured 77 million kilometers from the surface of the Sun – approximately half the distance between the star and the Earth. The mission is looking for records of the solar poles, points that have not yet been explored by any other space expedition.
Scientists estimate that the spacecraft is likely to move closer to the Sun’s surface and reach 42 million kilometers. Therefore, even closer photos are expected than those revealed on Thursday.