Image Credit: NASA

The fascinating detail in the bottom third of the picture, underneath the center, has been nicknamed the solar hedgehog. Currently, no one recognizes precisely what it is or how it cropped up in the sun’s atmosphere.

The picture was captured on 30 March 2022 by the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager at a wavelength of 17 nanometres. Just days earlier, Solar Orbiter had enacted through its first tight perihelion. At just 32 percent the distance of the Earth from the sun, this spotted the spacecraft inside the orbit of the internal planet Mercury. It is nearer the sun than any previous solar telescope has allowed EUI to capture exquisitely thorough impressions of the solar atmosphere.

These are disclosing the sun as never before and have shown many fascinating features such as the hedgehog, which, although ranked as a small scale feature, nonetheless measures some 25 000 km across, making it roughly twice the diameter of the Earth. The gases exhibited in this image have approximately one million degrees. The picture has been color-coded because the original wavelength detected by the device is unnoticed by the human eye.

Mighty blazes, breathtaking views across the solar poles and a bizarre solar “hedgehog” are among the haul of stunning impressions, movies, and data retreated by Solar Orbiter through its first close approach to the sun. Although the analysis of the new dataset has only just begun, it is already obvious that the ESA-led mission is delivering the most incredible insights into the sun’s magnetic behavior and how these shapes space weather.

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