Exclusive: A huge solar flare just seen by Solar Orbiter. See the images

18/02/2022

NASA and ESA's Solar Orbiter spacecraft captured a giant solar flare on February 15, 2022. The solar flare captured by the Solar Orbiter was a solar prominence and not a coronal mass ejection that we hear happens all the time. 

This solar prominence is a large structure of magnetic field lines that continues to maintain dense plasma concentrations after detaching from the solar surface. All these structures, which are suspended by the Sun for a long time, throwing plasma around, stretch for millions of km. This is also the case with this prominence, which has spread over impressive distances of millions of kilometers in space. 

Fortunately, the huge structure is not moving towards us, but instead moving away according to Solar Orbiter data. This makes ESA think that the eruption originated on the other side of the Sun, far away from us. 

Orbiter used Extreme Ultraviolet Imager's Full Sun Imager (FSI) tool to capture images. FSI is a specialized instrument in such missions and is designed to observe the solar disk even if the probe is very close to the Sun, according to ESA. FSI will also play an important role when the Solar Orbiter passes close to the Sun, next month when it passes the perihelion. Thus, at the closest approach that will take place on March 26, 2022, Solar Orbiter will approach the Sun at approx. 0.3 times the Sun-Earth distance.

NASA also received data from the Parker Solar Probe, which also tracked this unusual Sun event. Also, other missions from space, followed the event, transmitting important data. For example, the BepiColombo mission of ESA and JAXA, which even though it does not specialize in "monitoring the Sun", followed the event. It detected a "massive increase in readings for electrons, protons, and heavy ions with its radiation monitor," ESA said. 

Even though the explosion did not come to Earth, it is a sign of concern about the Sun's increasingly active and dangerous activity. If those deadly particles reached Earth, we could face the worst. What we need to do now is launch missions to monitor the Sun and let it know about its activity so that we can make decisions before it is too late. ESA is already working through the upcoming ESA Vigil mission, which will monitor the Sun. See more about ESA Vigil here

Article by: Andacs Robert Eugen, on 18 February 2022, at 08:14 am Los Angeles time

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