The High-Resolution Coronal Imager Space Telescope has sent in the results of its third mission to study the solar corona - detailed images of its magnetic loops.
Scientists from the University of Central Lancashire (UK) have published images of the Sun taken with a record resolution using NASA's High-Resolution Coronal Imager telescope, capable of recognizing structures up to 70 kilometers in size in the atmosphere, reports The Astrophysical Journal.
The first launch of the High-Resolution Coronal Imager (Hi-C) took place in July 2012 on the Canadian Black Brant meteorological rocket. Since then, the device has conducted two more successful missions, each of which yielded valuable data on the small-scale structures of the solar corona - and thanks to the third, which launched at the end of May 2018, these new images were obtained.
As scientists note, earlier some parts of the solar atmosphere looked dark and empty, they could not be examined in detail, but the new images revealed incredibly thin (for us) magnetic loops about 500 kilometers wide, filled with extremely hot plasma and piercing the Sun's corona, the temperature of which reaches millions kelvin.
“Until now, astronomers were able to study the closest star to us in standard resolution, but the exceptional quality of the images provided by the Hi-C telescope allows us to study the Sun in ultra-high resolution. If you watch a football game on TV in standard definition, the pitch looks green and even. But watch the same game in Ultra HD, and you will even see individual blades of grass. This is exactly what we got thanks to Hi-C. We are able to see all the regions that make up the atmosphere of a star,”says Professor Robert Walsh of the University of Central Lancashire.
Coronal loops, which can reach several thousand kilometers in size, form one of the main building blocks of the outer layers of a star's atmosphere and exist both on the quiet Sun and in its active regions. The study of the structure of the luminary's loops began in the 1940s. Scientists distinguish two types of them: short and hot, located in the active region and usually observed in X-rays, and cooler and longer loops that surround the nucleus and are observed in ultraviolet radiation.
According to scientists, the exact physical mechanism that creates these stretching hot filaments remains unclear, so further scientific research will focus on why they are formed and how their presence will help us study the nature of solar flares and storms that can affect life on Earth.
Earlier, a unique telescope for observing the Sun sent the first images of the star's surface with unprecedented resolution, and scientists from the US National Aerospace Agency noticed a strange eruption on the surface.