The Parker Solar Probe first flew through the Sun’s outermost layer, known as the corona, on April 28, 2021, to collect particles and measure the Sun’s magnetic field. , according to NASA. And this notice has just been published in Physical Review Letters on December 14.
“The Parker probe has ‘touched the Sun’ and it’s an amazing moment for solar science, as well as a truly remarkable feat.” Thomas Zurbuchen, deputy administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC.
“This important milestone not only provides us with deeper insights into the evolution of the Sun and its impact on our solar system, but everything we learn about the Sun. our own stars also teach us more about the stars in the rest of the universe.”
The sun is not a solid sphere in space, but a dense “soup” of plasma with a thin outer layer resembling an atmosphere known as the corona. It’s where matter blown out of the Sun is still in the Sun’s magnetic pull, so they can’t escape into space.
Like a rocket leaving Earth, if matter from the sun blows into space fast enough, it can escape the corona and become the solar wind, escaping into the wider solar system.
Therefore, the dividing line between the corona and the solar wind is not clear, but simply draws a circle around the sun. The true boundary of the Sun’s outer layer is known as the Alfvén Critical Surface (ACS), and until now, it was unclear where the ACS actually lies.
Touch the sun
By taking remote images of the corona along with other data, scientists have estimated that it spans between 10 and 20 solar radii from the Sun’s surface, or about 4,500 feet. 3 to 8.6 million miles.
The Parker probe has been on a gradually tightening spiral orbit around the Sun since it was launched in 2018, and on its eighth orbit at about 18.8 solar radii, it encountered the significant magnetic and particle conditions, indicating that it has passed the ACS and entered the Sun’s corona.
The probe’s first trip to the corona may only last a few hours, but as the 11-year solar cycle begins, the corona will expand outward, giving the probe more space. chance to fly over it again.
During its flyby of the sun, the Parker probe also passed through the corona several times, proving that the ACS is not a smooth crust, but filled with ripples, spikes, and valleys. Determining how these anomalies match up with activity on the sun’s surface could be key to determining how events on its surface affect the corona and, ultimately, the wind. Sun.
“We see evidence for the existence of a corona in magnetic field data, solar wind data, and visualization in the images. We can actually see the spacecraft fly past the ring structures that can be seen during a total eclipse.” Nour Raouafi, Parker project scientist at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland.
During its eighth flyby, the Parker probe was just under 15 solar radii from the surface, and it was eventually predicted to approach the sun within 8.86 radii. Its next flight is scheduled for January 2022, where it will likely pass over the corona again.
Nicola Fox, division director of the Helicopter Division at NASA Headquarters, said: “The opportunities for new discoveries are limitless.”
How did the Parker Probe get close to the surface of the Sun?
Parker Solar Probe has been developed to study the Sun from closer distances than any previous probe. And it can survive thanks to an advanced carbon-composite heat shield that can withstand temperatures up to 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit (about 1,377 degrees Celsius).
This has the effect of cutting through the heat of the Sun, in the same way a race car breaks through the front air and creates a rear wind. In the space behind a race car, another car experiences less wind resistance and can actually accelerate faster than if it were in front.
Likewise with the Parker Solar Probe, its heat shield pushes heat away, leaving the probe and instruments behind it to experience a much more tolerable temperature, allowing them not to melt. because of the heat.