ESA and NASA Release First Images From Solar Orbiter Mission

  • Released Thursday, July 16th, 2020
  • Updated Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023 at 1:44PM

Scientists from ESA (European Space Agency) and NASA will present the first images captured by Solar Orbiter, the joint ESA/NASA mission to study the Sun, during an online news briefing at 8 a.m. EDT Thursday, July 16.

Launched on Feb. 9, 2020, Solar Orbiter turned on all 10 of its instruments together for the first time in mid-June as it made its first close pass of the Sun. The flyby captured the closest images ever taken of the Sun.

During the briefing, mission experts will discuss what these closeup images reveal about our star, including what we can learn from Solar Orbiter’s new measurements of particles and magnetic fields flowing from the Sun.

The briefing will stream live at:

https://www.nasa.gov/solarorbiterfirstlight/

Participants in the call include:

Daniel Müller – Solar Orbiter Project Scientist at ESA
Holly R. Gilbert – Solar Orbiter Project Scientist at NASA
José Luis Pellón Bailón – Solar Orbiter Deputy Spacecraft Operations Manager at ESA
David Berghmans – Principal investigator of the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) at the Royal Observatory of Belgium
Sami Solanki – Principal investigator of the Polarimetric and Helioseismic Imager (PHI) and director of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research
Christopher J. Owen – Principal investigator of the Solar Wind Analyser (SWA) at Mullard Space Science Laboratory, University College London


ESA’s first light images
ESA press release
NASA feature story

This animation combines a series of views captured with several remote-sensing instruments on Solar Orbiter between 30 May and 21 June 2020, when the spacecraft was roughly halfway between the Earth and the Sun ¬– closer to the Sun than any other solar telescope has ever been before.

The first two red and yellow images were taken with the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) at wavelengths of 30 and 17 nanometers, respectively. The camera zooms in to these images to reveal a multitude of small flaring loops, erupting bright spots and dark, moving fibrils that have been called ‘campfires’.

The EUI images are followed by three views based on data from the Polarimetric and Helioseismic Imager (PHI) instrument. The blue and red view is a ‘tachogram’ of the Sun, showing the line of sight velocity of the Sun, with the blue side turning to us and the red side turning away. The following view is a magnetogram, featuring a large magnetically active region in the lower right-hand quadrant of the Sun. The yellow-orange view is a visible light image and represents what we would see with the naked eye.

The next two images are from the Metis coronagraph, which observes the corona simultaneously in visible light (shown in green) and ultraviolet light (shown in red). The final image is from the Solar Orbiter Heliospheric Imager (SoloHI) telescope, which takes images of the solar wind. The partial ellipse visible on the right is the zodiacal light, created by sunlight reflecting off the dust particles that are orbiting the Sun.

Solar Orbiter is an international collaboration between ESA and NASA.

Credit: Solar Orbiter/EUI Team; PHI Team; Metis Team; SoloHI Team /ESA & NASA

This animation shows a series of close-up views captured by the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) at wavelengths of 17 nanometers, showing the upper atmosphere of the Sun, or corona, with a temperature of around 1 million degrees. The circle at bottom left shows the size of Earth for scale.

These images reveal a multitude of small flaring loops, erupting bright spots and dark, moving fibrils uncovered for the first time by these images. Dubbed ‘campfires,’ they are omnipresent minuature eruptions that could be contributing to the high temperatures of the solar corona and the origin of the solar wind.

The colour on this image has been artificially added because the original wavelength detected by the instrument is invisible to the human eye.

Solar Orbiter is an international collaboration between ESA and NASA.

Credit: Solar Orbiter/EUI Team (ESA & NASA); CSL, IAS, MPS, PMOD/WRC, ROB, UCL/MSSL

The Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft took these images on 30 May 2020. They show the Sun’s appearance at a wavelength of 17 nanometers in the extreme ultraviolet region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Images at this wavelength reveal the upper atmosphere of the Sun, the corona, with a temperature of around 1 million degrees. The colour of these image has been artificially added because the original wavelength detected by the instrument is invisible to the human eye. 
Credit:  Solar Orbiter/EUI Team (ESA & NASA); CSL, IAS, MPS, PMOD/WRC, ROB, UCL/MSSL

The Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft took these images on 30 May 2020. They show the Sun’s appearance at a wavelength of 17 nanometers in the extreme ultraviolet region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Images at this wavelength reveal the upper atmosphere of the Sun, the corona, with a temperature of around 1 million degrees. The colour of these image has been artificially added because the original wavelength detected by the instrument is invisible to the human eye.

Credit: Solar Orbiter/EUI Team (ESA & NASA); CSL, IAS, MPS, PMOD/WRC, ROB, UCL/MSSL

The Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft took these images on 30 May 2020. They show the Sun’s appearance at a wavelength of 17 nanometers in the extreme ultraviolet region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Images at this wavelength reveal the upper atmosphere of the Sun, the corona, with a temperature of around 1 million degrees. The colour of these image has been artificially added because the original wavelength detected by the instrument is invisible to the human eye. 
Credit:  Solar Orbiter/EUI Team (ESA & NASA); CSL, IAS, MPS, PMOD/WRC, ROB, UCL/MSSL

The Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft took these images on 30 May 2020. They show the Sun’s appearance at a wavelength of 17 nanometers in the extreme ultraviolet region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Images at this wavelength reveal the upper atmosphere of the Sun, the corona, with a temperature of around 1 million degrees. The colour of these image has been artificially added because the original wavelength detected by the instrument is invisible to the human eye.

Credit: Solar Orbiter/EUI Team (ESA & NASA); CSL, IAS, MPS, PMOD/WRC, ROB, UCL/MSSL

A high-resolution image from the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft, taken with the HRIEUV telescope on 30 May 2020. The circle in the lower right corner indicates the size of Earth for scale. The arrow points to one of the ubiquitous features of the solar surface, called ‘campfires’ and revealed for the first time by these images.

The second image is a mosaic pointing out the ‘campfires‘ in several EUI images
Credit: Solar Orbiter/EUI Team (ESA & NASA); CSL, IAS, MPS, PMOD/WRC, ROB, UCL/MSSL

A high-resolution image from the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft, taken with the HRIEUV telescope on 30 May 2020. The circle in the lower right corner indicates the size of Earth for scale. The arrow points to one of the ubiquitous features of the solar surface, called ‘campfires’ and revealed for the first time by these images.

The second image is a mosaic pointing out the ‘campfires‘ in several EUI images

Credit: Solar Orbiter/EUI Team (ESA & NASA); CSL, IAS, MPS, PMOD/WRC, ROB, UCL/MSSL

A high-resolution image from the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft, taken with the HRIEUV telescope on 30 May 2020. The circle in the lower right corner indicates the size of Earth for scale. The arrow points to one of the ubiquitous features of the solar surface, called ‘campfires’ and revealed for the first time by these images.

The second image is a mosaic pointing out the ‘campfires‘ in several EUI images
Credit: Solar Orbiter/EUI Team (ESA & NASA); CSL, IAS, MPS, PMOD/WRC, ROB, UCL/MSSL

A high-resolution image from the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft, taken with the HRIEUV telescope on 30 May 2020. The circle in the lower right corner indicates the size of Earth for scale. The arrow points to one of the ubiquitous features of the solar surface, called ‘campfires’ and revealed for the first time by these images.

The second image is a mosaic pointing out the ‘campfires‘ in several EUI images

Credit: Solar Orbiter/EUI Team (ESA & NASA); CSL, IAS, MPS, PMOD/WRC, ROB, UCL/MSSL

High-resolution image sfrom the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft, taken with the HRIEUV telescope on 30 May 2020. These images show the Sun’s appearance at a wavelength of 17 nanometers in the extreme ultraviolet which reveal the upper atmosphere of the Sun, the corona, at a temperature of around 1 million degrees.

Credit: Solar Orbiter/EUI Team (ESA & NASA); CSL, IAS, MPS, PMOD/WRC, ROB, UCL/MSSL

High-resolution image sfrom the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft, taken with the HRIEUV telescope on 30 May 2020. These images show the Sun’s appearance at a wavelength of 17 nanometers in the extreme ultraviolet which reveal the upper atmosphere of the Sun, the corona, at a temperature of around 1 million degrees.

Credit: Solar Orbiter/EUI Team (ESA & NASA); CSL, IAS, MPS, PMOD/WRC, ROB, UCL/MSSL

High-resolution image sfrom the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft, taken with the HRIEUV telescope on 30 May 2020. These images show the Sun’s appearance at a wavelength of 17 nanometers in the extreme ultraviolet which reveal the upper atmosphere of the Sun, the corona, at a temperature of around 1 million degrees.

Credit: Solar Orbiter/EUI Team (ESA & NASA); CSL, IAS, MPS, PMOD/WRC, ROB, UCL/MSSL

High-resolution image sfrom the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft, taken with the HRIEUV telescope on 30 May 2020. These images show the Sun’s appearance at a wavelength of 17 nanometers in the extreme ultraviolet which reveal the upper atmosphere of the Sun, the corona, at a temperature of around 1 million degrees.

Credit: Solar Orbiter/EUI Team (ESA & NASA); CSL, IAS, MPS, PMOD/WRC, ROB, UCL/MSSL

High-resolution image sfrom the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft, taken with the HRIEUV telescope on 30 May 2020. These images show the Sun’s appearance at a wavelength of 17 nanometers in the extreme ultraviolet which reveal the upper atmosphere of the Sun, the corona, at a temperature of around 1 million degrees.

Credit: Solar Orbiter/EUI Team (ESA & NASA); CSL, IAS, MPS, PMOD/WRC, ROB, UCL/MSSL

High-resolution image sfrom the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft, taken with the HRIEUV telescope on 30 May 2020. These images show the Sun’s appearance at a wavelength of 17 nanometers in the extreme ultraviolet which reveal the upper atmosphere of the Sun, the corona, at a temperature of around 1 million degrees.

Credit: Solar Orbiter/EUI Team (ESA & NASA); CSL, IAS, MPS, PMOD/WRC, ROB, UCL/MSSL

High-resolution image sfrom the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft, taken with the HRIEUV telescope on 30 May 2020. These images show the Sun’s appearance at a wavelength of 17 nanometers in the extreme ultraviolet which reveal the upper atmosphere of the Sun, the corona, at a temperature of around 1 million degrees.

Credit: Solar Orbiter/EUI Team (ESA & NASA); CSL, IAS, MPS, PMOD/WRC, ROB, UCL/MSSL

High-resolution image sfrom the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft, taken with the HRIEUV telescope on 30 May 2020. These images show the Sun’s appearance at a wavelength of 17 nanometers in the extreme ultraviolet which reveal the upper atmosphere of the Sun, the corona, at a temperature of around 1 million degrees.

Credit: Solar Orbiter/EUI Team (ESA & NASA); CSL, IAS, MPS, PMOD/WRC, ROB, UCL/MSSL

These solar images have been produced by the high resolution imager, HRILYA telescope, which is part of the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) instrument on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft. The images show the solar surface at a wavelength of light known as Lyman-alpha, 121.6 nm. Lyman-alpha is in an ultraviolet wavelength of light produced by hydrogen, the most abundant chemical element in the Universe. 
These images show the solar atmosphere below the hot corona. The ‘network’ structure seen in the images is characteristic of a region of the solar atmosphere known as the chromosphere. The pattern is produced by convective motions underneath, but individual bright features within this pattern can correspond to the footprints of magnetic structures higher up in the corona.
The violet colour has been artificially added to help visual identification of this region.
Credit:  Solar Orbiter/EUI Team (ESA & NASA); CSL, IAS, MPS, PMOD/WRC, ROB, UCL/MSSL.

These solar images have been produced by the high resolution imager, HRILYA telescope, which is part of the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) instrument on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft. The images show the solar surface at a wavelength of light known as Lyman-alpha, 121.6 nm. Lyman-alpha is in an ultraviolet wavelength of light produced by hydrogen, the most abundant chemical element in the Universe.

These images show the solar atmosphere below the hot corona. The ‘network’ structure seen in the images is characteristic of a region of the solar atmosphere known as the chromosphere. The pattern is produced by convective motions underneath, but individual bright features within this pattern can correspond to the footprints of magnetic structures higher up in the corona.

The violet colour has been artificially added to help visual identification of this region.

Credit: Solar Orbiter/EUI Team (ESA & NASA); CSL, IAS, MPS, PMOD/WRC, ROB, UCL/MSSL.

These solar images have been produced by the high resolution imager, HRILYA telescope, which is part of the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) instrument on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft. The images show the solar surface at a wavelength of light known as Lyman-alpha, 121.6 nm. Lyman-alpha is in an ultraviolet wavelength of light produced by hydrogen, the most abundant chemical element in the Universe. 
These images show the solar atmosphere below the hot corona. The ‘network’ structure seen in the images is characteristic of a region of the solar atmosphere known as the chromosphere. The pattern is produced by convective motions underneath, but individual bright features within this pattern can correspond to the footprints of magnetic structures higher up in the corona.
The violet colour has been artificially added to help visual identification of this region.
Credit:  Solar Orbiter/EUI Team (ESA & NASA); CSL, IAS, MPS, PMOD/WRC, ROB, UCL/MSSL.

These solar images have been produced by the high resolution imager, HRILYA telescope, which is part of the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) instrument on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft. The images show the solar surface at a wavelength of light known as Lyman-alpha, 121.6 nm. Lyman-alpha is in an ultraviolet wavelength of light produced by hydrogen, the most abundant chemical element in the Universe.

These images show the solar atmosphere below the hot corona. The ‘network’ structure seen in the images is characteristic of a region of the solar atmosphere known as the chromosphere. The pattern is produced by convective motions underneath, but individual bright features within this pattern can correspond to the footprints of magnetic structures higher up in the corona.

The violet colour has been artificially added to help visual identification of this region.

Credit: Solar Orbiter/EUI Team (ESA & NASA); CSL, IAS, MPS, PMOD/WRC, ROB, UCL/MSSL.

These solar images have been produced by the high resolution imager, HRILYA telescope, which is part of the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) instrument on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft. The images show the solar surface at a wavelength of light known as Lyman-alpha, 121.6 nm. Lyman-alpha is in an ultraviolet wavelength of light produced by hydrogen, the most abundant chemical element in the Universe. 
These images show the solar atmosphere below the hot corona. The ‘network’ structure seen in the images is characteristic of a region of the solar atmosphere known as the chromosphere. The pattern is produced by convective motions underneath, but individual bright features within this pattern can correspond to the footprints of magnetic structures higher up in the corona.
The violet colour has been artificially added to help visual identification of this region.
Credit:  Solar Orbiter/EUI Team (ESA & NASA); CSL, IAS, MPS, PMOD/WRC, ROB, UCL/MSSL.

These solar images have been produced by the high resolution imager, HRILYA telescope, which is part of the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) instrument on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft. The images show the solar surface at a wavelength of light known as Lyman-alpha, 121.6 nm. Lyman-alpha is in an ultraviolet wavelength of light produced by hydrogen, the most abundant chemical element in the Universe.

These images show the solar atmosphere below the hot corona. The ‘network’ structure seen in the images is characteristic of a region of the solar atmosphere known as the chromosphere. The pattern is produced by convective motions underneath, but individual bright features within this pattern can correspond to the footprints of magnetic structures higher up in the corona.

The violet colour has been artificially added to help visual identification of this region.

Credit: Solar Orbiter/EUI Team (ESA & NASA); CSL, IAS, MPS, PMOD/WRC, ROB, UCL/MSSL.

These solar images have been produced by the high resolution imager, HRILYA telescope, which is part of the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) instrument on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft. The images show the solar surface at a wavelength of light known as Lyman-alpha, 121.6 nm. Lyman-alpha is in an ultraviolet wavelength of light produced by hydrogen, the most abundant chemical element in the Universe. 
These images show the solar atmosphere below the hot corona. The ‘network’ structure seen in the images is characteristic of a region of the solar atmosphere known as the chromosphere. The pattern is produced by convective motions underneath, but individual bright features within this pattern can correspond to the footprints of magnetic structures higher up in the corona.
The violet colour has been artificially added to help visual identification of this region.
Credit:  Solar Orbiter/EUI Team (ESA & NASA); CSL, IAS, MPS, PMOD/WRC, ROB, UCL/MSSL.

These solar images have been produced by the high resolution imager, HRILYA telescope, which is part of the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) instrument on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft. The images show the solar surface at a wavelength of light known as Lyman-alpha, 121.6 nm. Lyman-alpha is in an ultraviolet wavelength of light produced by hydrogen, the most abundant chemical element in the Universe.

These images show the solar atmosphere below the hot corona. The ‘network’ structure seen in the images is characteristic of a region of the solar atmosphere known as the chromosphere. The pattern is produced by convective motions underneath, but individual bright features within this pattern can correspond to the footprints of magnetic structures higher up in the corona.

The violet colour has been artificially added to help visual identification of this region.

Credit: Solar Orbiter/EUI Team (ESA & NASA); CSL, IAS, MPS, PMOD/WRC, ROB, UCL/MSSL.

These solar images have been produced by the high resolution imager, HRILYA telescope, which is part of the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) instrument on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft. The images show the solar surface at a wavelength of light known as Lyman-alpha, 121.6 nm. Lyman-alpha is in an ultraviolet wavelength of light produced by hydrogen, the most abundant chemical element in the Universe. 
These images show the solar atmosphere below the hot corona. The ‘network’ structure seen in the images is characteristic of a region of the solar atmosphere known as the chromosphere. The pattern is produced by convective motions underneath, but individual bright features within this pattern can correspond to the footprints of magnetic structures higher up in the corona.
The violet colour has been artificially added to help visual identification of this region.
Credit:  Solar Orbiter/EUI Team (ESA & NASA); CSL, IAS, MPS, PMOD/WRC, ROB, UCL/MSSL.

These solar images have been produced by the high resolution imager, HRILYA telescope, which is part of the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) instrument on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft. The images show the solar surface at a wavelength of light known as Lyman-alpha, 121.6 nm. Lyman-alpha is in an ultraviolet wavelength of light produced by hydrogen, the most abundant chemical element in the Universe.

These images show the solar atmosphere below the hot corona. The ‘network’ structure seen in the images is characteristic of a region of the solar atmosphere known as the chromosphere. The pattern is produced by convective motions underneath, but individual bright features within this pattern can correspond to the footprints of magnetic structures higher up in the corona.

The violet colour has been artificially added to help visual identification of this region.

Credit: Solar Orbiter/EUI Team (ESA & NASA); CSL, IAS, MPS, PMOD/WRC, ROB, UCL/MSSL.

These solar images have been produced by the high resolution imager, HRILYA telescope, which is part of the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) instrument on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft. The images show the solar surface at a wavelength of light known as Lyman-alpha, 121.6 nm. Lyman-alpha is in an ultraviolet wavelength of light produced by hydrogen, the most abundant chemical element in the Universe. 
These images show the solar atmosphere below the hot corona. The ‘network’ structure seen in the images is characteristic of a region of the solar atmosphere known as the chromosphere. The pattern is produced by convective motions underneath, but individual bright features within this pattern can correspond to the footprints of magnetic structures higher up in the corona.
The violet colour has been artificially added to help visual identification of this region.
Credit:  Solar Orbiter/EUI Team (ESA & NASA); CSL, IAS, MPS, PMOD/WRC, ROB, UCL/MSSL.

These solar images have been produced by the high resolution imager, HRILYA telescope, which is part of the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) instrument on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft. The images show the solar surface at a wavelength of light known as Lyman-alpha, 121.6 nm. Lyman-alpha is in an ultraviolet wavelength of light produced by hydrogen, the most abundant chemical element in the Universe.

These images show the solar atmosphere below the hot corona. The ‘network’ structure seen in the images is characteristic of a region of the solar atmosphere known as the chromosphere. The pattern is produced by convective motions underneath, but individual bright features within this pattern can correspond to the footprints of magnetic structures higher up in the corona.

The violet colour has been artificially added to help visual identification of this region.

Credit: Solar Orbiter/EUI Team (ESA & NASA); CSL, IAS, MPS, PMOD/WRC, ROB, UCL/MSSL.

These images from the Metis coronagraph on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter block out the dazzling light from the solar surface, allowing the fainter outer atmosphere of the Sun, the corona, to be seen. The two first light images, taken on May 15, 2020 and shown in the left-hand column, are the first simultaneous images of the corona taken in both visible light (580-640 nm) and ultraviolet light (UV, 121.6 nm). The two images on the right-hand column were taken on June 21, 2020, soon after Solar Orbiter’s first perihelion on June 15.
The visible light image (shown in green) shows the two bright equatorial streamers and fainter polar regions, which are characteristic of the solar corona during times of minimal magnetic activity. The ultraviolet image (shown in red) records emission from neutral hydrogen atoms in the corona. This is the first UV image of the extended solar corona ever obtained. 

Credit:  Solar Orbiter/Metis Team (ESA & NASA)

These images from the Metis coronagraph on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter block out the dazzling light from the solar surface, allowing the fainter outer atmosphere of the Sun, the corona, to be seen. The two first light images, taken on May 15, 2020 and shown in the left-hand column, are the first simultaneous images of the corona taken in both visible light (580-640 nm) and ultraviolet light (UV, 121.6 nm). The two images on the right-hand column were taken on June 21, 2020, soon after Solar Orbiter’s first perihelion on June 15.

The visible light image (shown in green) shows the two bright equatorial streamers and fainter polar regions, which are characteristic of the solar corona during times of minimal magnetic activity. The ultraviolet image (shown in red) records emission from neutral hydrogen atoms in the corona. This is the first UV image of the extended solar corona ever obtained.

Credit: Solar Orbiter/Metis Team (ESA & NASA)

An image of the Sun’s corona obtained with the Metis coronagraph on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter. This image comes from the instrument’s first light, which was obtained on May 15, 2020, and was taken in visible light (580-640 nm). It shows the two bright equatorial streamers and fainter polar regions that are characteristic of the solar corona during times of minimal magnetic activity. 

Credit: Solar Orbiter/Metis Team (ESA & NASA)

An image of the Sun’s corona obtained with the Metis coronagraph on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter. This image comes from the instrument’s first light, which was obtained on May 15, 2020, and was taken in visible light (580-640 nm). It shows the two bright equatorial streamers and fainter polar regions that are characteristic of the solar corona during times of minimal magnetic activity.

Credit: Solar Orbiter/Metis Team (ESA & NASA)

An image of the Sun’s corona obtained with the Metis coronagraph on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter. This image comes from the instrument’s first light, which was obtained on May 15, 2020, and was taken in visible light (580-640 nm). It shows the two bright equatorial streamers and fainter polar regions that are characteristic of the solar corona during times of minimal magnetic activity. 

Credit: Solar Orbiter/Metis Team (ESA & NASA)

An image of the Sun’s corona obtained with the Metis coronagraph on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter. This image comes from the instrument’s first light, which was obtained on May 15, 2020, and was taken in visible light (580-640 nm). It shows the two bright equatorial streamers and fainter polar regions that are characteristic of the solar corona during times of minimal magnetic activity.

Credit: Solar Orbiter/Metis Team (ESA & NASA)

An image of the Sun’s corona obtained with the Metis instrument on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter. This image comes from the instrument’s first light, which was obtained on May 15, 2020, and was taken in ultraviolet light (121.6 nm). It shows the two bright equatorial streamers and fainter polar regions that are characteristic of the solar corona during times of minimal magnetic activity. 

Credit: Solar Orbiter/Metis Team (ESA & NASA)

An image of the Sun’s corona obtained with the Metis instrument on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter. This image comes from the instrument’s first light, which was obtained on May 15, 2020, and was taken in ultraviolet light (121.6 nm). It shows the two bright equatorial streamers and fainter polar regions that are characteristic of the solar corona during times of minimal magnetic activity.

Credit: Solar Orbiter/Metis Team (ESA & NASA)

An image of the Sun’s corona obtained with the Metis instrument on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter. This was obtained on June 21, 2020, shortly after the spacecraft’s first perihelion, and was taken in ultraviolet light (121.6 nm). It shows the two bright equatorial streamers and fainter polar regions that are characteristic of the solar corona during times of minimal magnetic activity. 

Credit: Solar Orbiter/Metis Team (ESA & NASA)

An image of the Sun’s corona obtained with the Metis instrument on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter. This was obtained on June 21, 2020, shortly after the spacecraft’s first perihelion, and was taken in ultraviolet light (121.6 nm). It shows the two bright equatorial streamers and fainter polar regions that are characteristic of the solar corona during times of minimal magnetic activity.

Credit: Solar Orbiter/Metis Team (ESA & NASA)

A composite view of the outer atmosphere of the Sun, the corona.
This image combines a wide-angle view of the corona from the Metis instrument on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter taken in visible light (580-640 nm, shown in green) with images from the ground-based Mauna Loa K-Cor coronagraph (shown in blue) and from the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) instrument on NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) taken in ultraviolet light (19.3 nm, shown in yellow). The texture represents the field lines from an extrapolation of the Sun’s magnetic field. 
The combination of these complementary views shows the full extent of the solar corona. The global scale solar magnetic field confines the plasma mostly near the equatorial belt, where the field lines are closed, giving rise to the bright streamers. Polar regions, where the magnetic field lines are open, exhibit a fainter brightness due the plasma outflow in the solar wind.

Credits: Solar Orbiter/Metis Team (ESA & NASA); Mauna Loa Solar Observatory/HAO/NCAR/NSF; Predictive Science Inc./NASA/NSF/AFOSR; NASA/SDO/AIA

A composite view of the outer atmosphere of the Sun, the corona.

This image combines a wide-angle view of the corona from the Metis instrument on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter taken in visible light (580-640 nm, shown in green) with images from the ground-based Mauna Loa K-Cor coronagraph (shown in blue) and from the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) instrument on NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) taken in ultraviolet light (19.3 nm, shown in yellow). The texture represents the field lines from an extrapolation of the Sun’s magnetic field.

The combination of these complementary views shows the full extent of the solar corona. The global scale solar magnetic field confines the plasma mostly near the equatorial belt, where the field lines are closed, giving rise to the bright streamers. Polar regions, where the magnetic field lines are open, exhibit a fainter brightness due the plasma outflow in the solar wind.

Credits: Solar Orbiter/Metis Team (ESA & NASA); Mauna Loa Solar Observatory/HAO/NCAR/NSF; Predictive Science Inc./NASA/NSF/AFOSR; NASA/SDO/AIA

The Polarimetric and Helioseismic Imager (PHI) on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter measures the magnetic field near the Sun’s surface and allows for an investigation of the Sun’s interior via helioseismology, measuring oscillations on the Sun to infer its inner structure. 

The top left hand image was taken on June 18, 2020 using the PHI Full Disk Telescope. It shows the Sun as it would appear to the naked eye. The bottom left image was taken on May 28, 2020 with the PHI High Resolution Telescope. It is a magnetogram that spans an area of approximately 200 000 km x 200 000 km on the solar surface. The small structures seen are magnetic regions of both north and south polarities, some of which have sizes over 1000 miles long. The bottom right image shows an extrapolation of the magnetic field lines emanating from the magnetic structures into the upper solar atmosphere, which Solar Orbiter’s Extreme Ultraviolet Imager telescope (EUI) images. The top right image shows the visible appearance of this patch on the sun’s surface. The granulation pattern represents the up and down flows of hot, electrically charged gas known as plasma under the Sun’s visible surface. 

Credit: Solar Orbiter/PHI Team/ESA & NASA

The Polarimetric and Helioseismic Imager (PHI) on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter measures the magnetic field near the Sun’s surface and allows for an investigation of the Sun’s interior via helioseismology, measuring oscillations on the Sun to infer its inner structure.

The top left hand image was taken on June 18, 2020 using the PHI Full Disk Telescope. It shows the Sun as it would appear to the naked eye. The bottom left image was taken on May 28, 2020 with the PHI High Resolution Telescope. It is a magnetogram that spans an area of approximately 200 000 km x 200 000 km on the solar surface. The small structures seen are magnetic regions of both north and south polarities, some of which have sizes over 1000 miles long. The bottom right image shows an extrapolation of the magnetic field lines emanating from the magnetic structures into the upper solar atmosphere, which Solar Orbiter’s Extreme Ultraviolet Imager telescope (EUI) images. The top right image shows the visible appearance of this patch on the sun’s surface. The granulation pattern represents the up and down flows of hot, electrically charged gas known as plasma under the Sun’s visible surface.

Credit: Solar Orbiter/PHI Team/ESA & NASA

The Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) Full Sun Imager (FSI) telescope on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter took the images in the top row and far right column across the week following May 30, 2020, and contributed to the central image. 

The yellow images along the top, taken at the extreme ultraviolet wavelength of 17 nanometers (nm), show the Sun’s outer atmosphere, the corona, at a temperature of around one million degrees. The red images along the right, taken at a slightly longer wavelength of 30 nm, show the Sun’s transition region, the interface between the lower and upper layers of the solar atmosphere. Only about 60 miles thick, the temperature increases by a factor of up to 100 to reach the one million degrees of the corona.

The middle image shows projected, simultaneous solar images from EUI FSI (red) at Solar Orbiter’s position during its first perihelion, the closest point in its orbit to the Sun, and the NASA Solar Dynamic Observatory mission (gray) in Earth orbit.

The image in the middle of the leftmost column was taken by the Polarimetric and Helioseismic Imager (PHI) instrument on June 18, 2020. It shows a “magnetic map of the Sun” that reveals the magnetic field strengths on the solar surface. 

The blue, white and red image at bottom left is a tachogram of the Sun, again taken with PHI. It shows the line of sight velocity of the Sun, with the blue side turning to us and the red side turning away. 

In the bottom center is a view of the Sun in visible light, taken by PHI on June 18, 2020. There are no sunspots because there is very little magnetic activity. 

Credit: Solar Orbiter/EUI Team; PHI Team/ESA & NASA

The Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) Full Sun Imager (FSI) telescope on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter took the images in the top row and far right column across the week following May 30, 2020, and contributed to the central image.

The yellow images along the top, taken at the extreme ultraviolet wavelength of 17 nanometers (nm), show the Sun’s outer atmosphere, the corona, at a temperature of around one million degrees. The red images along the right, taken at a slightly longer wavelength of 30 nm, show the Sun’s transition region, the interface between the lower and upper layers of the solar atmosphere. Only about 60 miles thick, the temperature increases by a factor of up to 100 to reach the one million degrees of the corona.

The middle image shows projected, simultaneous solar images from EUI FSI (red) at Solar Orbiter’s position during its first perihelion, the closest point in its orbit to the Sun, and the NASA Solar Dynamic Observatory mission (gray) in Earth orbit.

The image in the middle of the leftmost column was taken by the Polarimetric and Helioseismic Imager (PHI) instrument on June 18, 2020. It shows a “magnetic map of the Sun” that reveals the magnetic field strengths on the solar surface.

The blue, white and red image at bottom left is a tachogram of the Sun, again taken with PHI. It shows the line of sight velocity of the Sun, with the blue side turning to us and the red side turning away.

In the bottom center is a view of the Sun in visible light, taken by PHI on June 18, 2020. There are no sunspots because there is very little magnetic activity.

Credit: Solar Orbiter/EUI Team; PHI Team/ESA & NASA

The Polarimetric and Helioseismic Imager (PHI) on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter measures the magnetic field at the Sun’s surface and allows the investigation of the Sun’s interior via the technique of helioseismology. 

The top left image is a view of the Sun taken by PHI’s Full Disk Telescope on June 18, 2020. This is a visible light image and represents what we would see with the naked eye. Below this is a close-up image taken by PHI’s High Resolution Telescope on May 28, 2020. The area is approximately 125,000 miles x 125,000 miles across and is centered on the middle of the Sun. It shows the Sun’s granulation pattern that results from the movement of hot plasma under the Sun’s visible surface.

The top image of the middle column reveals the magnetic properties of the same region. Dark and light areas show the north and south magnetic polarities of those areas. The full disk image below shows a similar magnetic map but for the whole Sun. Taken on June 18, 2020, there is a large magnetically active region in the lower right-hand quadrant of the Sun.

The top image of the right-hand column is a ‘tachogram’ of the Sun, again taken with the PHI Full Disk Telescope on June 18, 2020. It shows the line of sight velocity of the Sun, with the blue side turning to us and the red side turning away. The close-up image below it is a similar tachogram but for the close-up area of the Sun that PHI imaged on May 28, 2020. Here, the granulation pattern can be seen as well as the change from blue to red, which signifies the overall rotation of the Sun. In this image, yellow (rather than white) denotes the zero line-of-sight velocity.

Credit: Solar Orbiter/PHI Team/ESA & NASA

The Polarimetric and Helioseismic Imager (PHI) on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter measures the magnetic field at the Sun’s surface and allows the investigation of the Sun’s interior via the technique of helioseismology.

The top left image is a view of the Sun taken by PHI’s Full Disk Telescope on June 18, 2020. This is a visible light image and represents what we would see with the naked eye. Below this is a close-up image taken by PHI’s High Resolution Telescope on May 28, 2020. The area is approximately 125,000 miles x 125,000 miles across and is centered on the middle of the Sun. It shows the Sun’s granulation pattern that results from the movement of hot plasma under the Sun’s visible surface.

The top image of the middle column reveals the magnetic properties of the same region. Dark and light areas show the north and south magnetic polarities of those areas. The full disk image below shows a similar magnetic map but for the whole Sun. Taken on June 18, 2020, there is a large magnetically active region in the lower right-hand quadrant of the Sun.

The top image of the right-hand column is a ‘tachogram’ of the Sun, again taken with the PHI Full Disk Telescope on June 18, 2020. It shows the line of sight velocity of the Sun, with the blue side turning to us and the red side turning away. The close-up image below it is a similar tachogram but for the close-up area of the Sun that PHI imaged on May 28, 2020. Here, the granulation pattern can be seen as well as the change from blue to red, which signifies the overall rotation of the Sun. In this image, yellow (rather than white) denotes the zero line-of-sight velocity.

Credit: Solar Orbiter/PHI Team/ESA & NASA

The full disc image below shows a magnetic map of the whole Sun based on data from the Polarimetric and Helioseismic Imager (PHI) on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter. Taken on June 18, 2020, there is a large magnetically active region in the lower right-hand quadrant of the Sun.

Credit: Solar Orbiter/PHI Team/ESA & NASA

The full disc image below shows a magnetic map of the whole Sun based on data from the Polarimetric and Helioseismic Imager (PHI) on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter. Taken on June 18, 2020, there is a large magnetically active region in the lower right-hand quadrant of the Sun.

Credit: Solar Orbiter/PHI Team/ESA & NASA

This image is a view of the Sun taken by the Polarimetric and Helioseismic Imager (PHI) Full Disk Telescope on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter on June 18, 2020. This is a visible light image and represents what we would see with the naked eye. 

Credit: Solar Orbiter/PHI Team/ESA & NASA

This image is a view of the Sun taken by the Polarimetric and Helioseismic Imager (PHI) Full Disk Telescope on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter on June 18, 2020. This is a visible light image and represents what we would see with the naked eye.

Credit: Solar Orbiter/PHI Team/ESA & NASA

This image is a ‘tachogram’ of the Sun, taken with the Polarimetric and Helioseismic Imager (PHI) Full Disc Telescope on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter on June 18, 2020. It shows the line of sight velocity of the Sun, with the blue side turning to us and the red side turning away. 

Credit: Solar Orbiter/PHI Team/ESA & NASA

This image is a ‘tachogram’ of the Sun, taken with the Polarimetric and Helioseismic Imager (PHI) Full Disc Telescope on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter on June 18, 2020. It shows the line of sight velocity of the Sun, with the blue side turning to us and the red side turning away.

Credit: Solar Orbiter/PHI Team/ESA & NASA

This image shows an extrapolation of the magnetic field lines emanating from the magnetic structures into the upper solar atmosphere. 

Credit: Solar Orbiter/PHI Team/ESA & NASA

This image shows an extrapolation of the magnetic field lines emanating from the magnetic structures into the upper solar atmosphere.

Credit: Solar Orbiter/PHI Team/ESA & NASA

This image shows a magnetogram taken with the Polarimetric and Helioseismic Imager (PHI) High Resolution Telescope on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter on May 28, 2020. It spans an area of approximately 125,000 miles x 125,000 miles on the solar surface. The small structures seen are magnetic regions of both north and south polarities, some of which have sizes of a few thousand miles across. 

Credit: Solar Orbiter/PHI Team/ESA & NASA

This image shows a magnetogram taken with the Polarimetric and Helioseismic Imager (PHI) High Resolution Telescope on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter on May 28, 2020. It spans an area of approximately 125,000 miles x 125,000 miles on the solar surface. The small structures seen are magnetic regions of both north and south polarities, some of which have sizes of a few thousand miles across.

Credit: Solar Orbiter/PHI Team/ESA & NASA

A close-up image taken with the Polarimetric and Helioseismic Imager (PHI) High Resolution Telescope on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter on May 28, 2020. The area is approximately 125,000 miles x 125,000 miles across and is centered on the middle of the Sun. It shows the Sun’s granulation pattern that results from the movement of hot plasma under the Sun’s visible surface.

Credit: Solar Orbiter/PHI Team/ESA & NASA

A close-up image taken with the Polarimetric and Helioseismic Imager (PHI) High Resolution Telescope on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter on May 28, 2020. The area is approximately 125,000 miles x 125,000 miles across and is centered on the middle of the Sun. It shows the Sun’s granulation pattern that results from the movement of hot plasma under the Sun’s visible surface.

Credit: Solar Orbiter/PHI Team/ESA & NASA

The Solar Orbiter Heliospheric Imager (SoloHI) telescope on ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter takes images of the solar wind – the stream of charged particles constantly released by the Sun into outer space – by capturing the light scattered by electrons in the wind.

This image is a mosaic of four separate images from four separate detectors, obtained during the instrument’s ‘first light’ on June 5, 2020. Then, Solar Orbiter was at a distance of about 48 million miles from the Sun, about half the Earth’s distance.

SoloHI looks off to the left side of the Sun, 5 to 45 degrees from Sun center, which at a distance of 48 million miles away corresponds to about 10 to 85 times the solar radius, or from 3.8 to 46 million miles from the solar surface.

The Sun is located to the right of the frame, and its light is blocked by a series of baffles that reject the sunlight by a factor of a trillion (1012). The last baffle is in the field of view on the right-hand side and is illuminated by reflections from the solar array.

The partial ellipse visible on the right is the zodiacal light, created by sunlight reflecting off the dust particles that are orbiting the Sun. Planet Mercury is also visible as a small bright dot near the lower edge of the upper left tile.

Credit: Solar Orbiter/SoloHI Team (ESA & NASA); U.S. Naval Research Laboratory



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