The closest ever images of the sun reveal its surface is speckled with “campfires”, miniature versions of the dramatic solar flares visible from Earth.
The observations, beamed back from the Solar Orbiter spacecraft, which is a joint Nasa and European Space Agency (ESA) mission, could help resolve why the sun’s atmosphere is so staggeringly hot compared to the surface – a central paradox in solar physics. Miniature flares have been proposed as a theoretical explanation for the so-called coronal heating problem, but until now no telescope has had a good enough resolution to observe the sun’s atmosphere in sufficient detail.
The latest footage, taken at 77m kilometres (48m miles) above the solar surface between the orbits of Venus and Mercury, reveals flickering beacons, each spanning just a few hundred kilometres across and lasting minutes, before fizzling out again.
Read more at The Guardian