NASA enters the Sun's atmosphere for the first time

How was our Solar System formed? How does the sun behave? The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is immersed in multiple investigations to detect new exoplanets, to study the composition of Mars and to understand how the Solar System originated, among many others.

In this sense, a new analysis published in the specialised journal Nature reveals the first data that NASA's Parker probe has collected within the Sun's atmosphere. In total, four articles report the results of the two approaches that have taken the Spaceship in this environment for the first time in history.

Understand the temperature of the star

The Parker probe was launched into outer space by NASA a little over a year ago, in August 2018, to study the Sun's behaviour to reveal details that are still unknown. This mission is the first in the history of space that is so close to our star, and that will help us understand its mysteries, or so they expect from NASA.

The objective of the mission is to understand why the surface layers of the solar atmosphere themselves reach temperatures of up to one million degrees, compared to the inner layers that reach only 5,000 degrees.

To do this, the Parker probe is located in an elliptical orbit that approaches the Sun every five months. In November 2018 and April 2019 he made his first two approaches. Last September the probe completed its third trip flying, approximately, 24 million kilometres from the solar surface. Now we know some of the results that try to explain how particle waves and the magnetic field of the solar wind are produced.

A much faster particle flow

One of the first results to advance is that the flow of particles is more rapid than previously thought and observed. One of the authors of this investigation, the physicist Justin Kasper, emphasises that «the solar wind advances forming huge waves that, in a matter of minutes, double their speed reaching up to 150 kilometres per second. Something never is seen».

On the other hand, he continues, when the spacecraft was near the Sun, the scientists discovered that “the wind revolved around the Sun in the same direction that it revolves around its axis. This had been predicted, but the rotation we found is 10 to 20 times faster than the standard models of the Sun said. It continued to increase as we approached it and reached a maximum of approximately 50 km / s », He says.

The origin of the slow solar wind

Another recently published study indicates that the slow solar wind and its source are analysed. Previously, researchers had found that the solar wind has two components: a fast one that travels at more than 500 kilometres per second, and a slow one below 500 kilometres per second whose origin is still unknown.

The authors have been able to find out that this wind forms in holes in the crown. «The first three meetings of the solar probe that we have had so far have been spectacular.

 We can see the magnetic structure of the corona, which tells us that the solar wind is emerging from small coronal holes, we see spontaneous activity, large flares or interruptions, which we believe are related to the origin of the solar wind. And we are also surprised by the ferocity of a dusty environment, ”says study and physicist Stuart Bale.

Finally, the other two published studies focus on the analysis of the energy particles that travel around the Sun and the presence of dust in areas near the star. Correctly, it has been discovered that particles in the solar wind can be released in explosive flares and not irradiated.

«The crown is one million degrees, but the surface of the Sun is only thousands. It is as if the surface temperature of the Earth was the same, but its atmosphere was many thousands of degrees. How can this be? One would expect a lower temperature as one moves away from the surface, ” asks Tim Horbury, a study researcher.


Finally, scientists have been able to observe the presence of dust in areas near our star that could be, as they claim, remains of asteroids or comets that disappeared when approaching the Sun.

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