what do the new photos and the new enigma to be solved tell us –

from Giovanni Caprara

Why and how the question that scientists try to answer heats up thanks to the incredible images revealed also thanks to Italian technology

A turbulent and violent atmosphere offers us the Sun, in the stormy images transmitted by the Solar Orbiter probe of the European space agency ESA. He caught them last March but only now spread, when the cosmic robot was located about 50 million kilometers from the Sun. A close range that allowed to send record-breaking photos of that mysterious world that still our Sun, despite being investigated continuously from Earth and from numerous satellites.

The great puzzle, in particular, to which scientists try to find the answer is the temperature difference between the surface, the photosphere, of just six thousand degrees and the surrounding atmosphere, the corona, which reaches two million degrees. Why and how heats up the question that scientists try to answer by getting as close as possible to the star.

The stunning and impressive images sent by Solar Orbiter reveal details that will be invaluable to researchers. These bring out unknown aspects of the crown and were taken up by the first instrument (Metis) able to grasp them, realized by an ASI program under the guidance of Marco Romoli of the University of Florence, involving from the National Institute of Astrophysics at the University of Padua to the Photonics Institute of the Cnr. The construction of the apparatus, on the other hand, was the result of OHB Italia and Thales Alenia Space.

To study the Sun, a real race is underway between NASA and ESA. Indeed the American space agency has sent the Solar Parker Probe which is getting even closer than the European probe to the celestial body. Last December it had reached 10 million kilometers e in 2025 it will drop further to six million kilometers.

Even if the Solar Orbiter does not achieve similar records, it has the advantage of having the Metis instrument that reveals the surface of our star in the visible and ultraviolet band. The antagonist Parker Solar Probe, on the other hand, has only scientific instruments that record the characteristics of the solar corona. But together, nevertheless, they will help us find previously impossible answers.

May 20, 2022 (change May 20, 2022 | 17:20)