(ORDO NEWS) — The Solar Orbiter, a spacecraft of the European Space Agency, recorded for the first time the change in the Sun’s magnetic field with a camera. These phenomena are known as magnetic switches.
Previously, scientists have never been able to observe them in real time. The new data allowed for a better understanding of the structure of the switches and confirmed that they are S-shaped, according to the ESA website.
The data was received on March 25, 2022, when Solar Orbiter flew close to the Sun. The Metis instrument took an unusual photo of the solar corona. Scientists have seen a distorted S-shaped kink in the coronal plasma.
The image was taken in visible light. The scientists compared it to a picture taken with an ultraviolet camera and suggested that it was an example of a magnetic switch.
The phenomenon was recorded over the active region of AR 12972. Further analysis of the Metis data showed that the plasma velocity over this region was very low, since it had not yet released the stored energy.
It is known that there are open and closed magnetic field lines on the Sun. The open lines radiate from the star and connect with the solar system’s interplanetary magnetic field. The plasma is free to flow, generating fast solar winds.
The closed lines are loops of magnetism that arc up into the solar atmosphere, bend, and disappear. Plasma hardly escapes into space outside the lines, so the speed of solar winds in these areas is low.
Scientists have been able to prove that magnetic switches are produced by the interaction between open and closed lines. Through new research, they plan to establish how the solar winds accelerate and heat up away from the Sun.
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