For the first time, a human spacecraft has literally touched the sun. Scientists made the announcement at the American Geophysical Union meeting in New Orleans. They said the Parker solar probe flew over the sun’s upper atmosphere, its vaporous corona, on April 28, 2021. The corona is that fiery outer layer of the sun that appears around the silhouette of the moon during total solar eclipses. Parker Solar Probe sampled the particles and magnetic fields of the corona. He’s made discoveries that more distant spaceships can’t. For example, the solar wind is a flow of charged particles released by the solar corona. Parker Solar Probe has discovered zigzag structures in the solar wind that scientists call switchbacks. Cool!
On the same day, the peer-reviewed Physical Review Letters published the results of Parker Solar Probe’s first foray into the sun’s upper atmosphere. The Astrophysical Journal also accepted the results for publication.
Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator of the Scientific Missions Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said:
Touching the sun is a monumental moment for solar science and a truly remarkable achievement. Not only does this step provide us with more in-depth information about how our sun has evolved and its impacts on our solar system, but everything we learn about our own star also tells us more about stars in the rest of the universe. .
In addition, Nour Raouafi of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory said:
Flying so close to the sun, Parker Solar Probe is now detecting conditions in the magnetically dominated layer of the solar atmosphere — the corona — that we have never been able to before. We see evidence of being in the corona in magnetic field data, solar wind data, and visually in images. We can actually see the spacecraft flying through coronal structures that can be seen during a total solar eclipse.
On the one hand, when Parker Solar Probe passed through our sun’s corona, or vaporous outer atmosphere, it flew over structures called coronal streamers. These structures are the light features moving upward in the upper images above and slanting downward in the lower row. These are the streamers visible around the silhouette of the black moon during total solar eclipses. And now our robot emissary — Parker Solar Probe — has touched these streamers and measured them for the first time.
As Parker circled closer and closer during several overflights, scientists looked for indications that he had reached the critical surface of Alfvén. Alfvén’s critical surface is the point that marks the end of the solar atmosphere and the start of the solar wind. Although the sun does not have a solid surface, it does have a boundary. The boundary is the point at which solar matter bound to the sun by gravity and magnetic forces ends.Zone contenant les pièces jointes
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