Probe Parker, which NASA launched to study the outer corona of the Sun, became the first spacecraft to fly through a powerful solar eruption. This moment was captured by the instrument for creating images of the mission an hour ago, however, the information was released only now.
The sun is on the left side of the video. The plasma eruption is noticeable for about 14 seconds. The spacecraft crossed the leading edge of the shock wave, Forbes writes.
At the moment when the star ejected billions of tons of plasma, Parker was 9.2 million km away from it. For comparison, the closest planet to the Sun – Mercury – is located 37 million km away from it, and the Earth – in 150 million km. Astrophysicists noted that this is the first time they managed to see a solar explosion so closely. Now there is an opportunity to study the phenomenon in its early stages.
During such a flare, the Sun emits a large amount of energy. This can cause a geomagnetic storm and change the shape of our planet's magnetic field, which manifests itself in the form of the Northern Lights. In more serious cases, the consequences can be failure of satellites, communication systems, and blackouts.
However, the powerful explosion encountered by the solar probe occurred on the far side of the star and was not directed to Earth.
NASA is just planning to start the Big Hour of Heliophysics — a celebration of solar science and the influence of the Sun on the Earth and the rest of the Solar System. It will begin with the annular solar eclipse on October 14, which will cross nine US states, and will end in December 2024, when the Parker probe will get as close to the Sun as possible.
Prepared by Sergey Daga