(ORDO NEWS) — The Solar Orbiter observed a unique phenomenon during its approach to the Sun. The magnetic field suddenly changed.
The European Solar Orbiter, which recently experienced a dangerous flare on the Sun while near Venus, has unraveled the long-standing mystery of the origin of magnetic switching. The data obtained speaks of the mechanism of their physical formation, which helps to accelerate the solar wind.
The orbiter also provided strong data indicating that these rapidly changing magnetic fields can occur near the surface of the Sun.
The sudden change in the magnetic field around the Sun has puzzled astronomers for decades. This phenomenon was first observed by astrophysicists in the 1970s, when the German-American spacecraft Helios 1 and 2 flew close to the Sun.
The reversals of the Sun’s magnetic field were dynamic and could remain rotating for minutes and sometimes hours before switching back to their original direction.
The European Space Agency noted that the phenomenon intensified with the arrival of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe in 2018, leading astronomers to speculate that there were more of them near the Sun and leading to speculation that they were caused by S-shaped kinks in the magnetic field.
The last observation was on March 25, 2022, when the Solar Orbiter was only a day away from a close pass of the Sun, placing it in orbit around the planet Mercury. The spacecraft turned on its Metis instrument, which blocks bright glare from the sun’s surface and takes pictures of the star’s corona.
Metis imaged the solar corona showing a distorted S-shaped bend in the coronal plasma, similar to a switch.
Daniele Telloni of the National Institute of Astrophysics – Astrophysical Observatory of Turin compared the Metis image with a simultaneous image taken by the Solar Orbiter Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI).
He found that the switch occurs over an active region, designated AR 12972, which is associated with sunspots and magnetic activity. The analysis showed that the plasma velocity over this region was very low.
They discovered magnetic highways through which plasma can flow freely and generate a fast solar wind. The researchers proved that “reverse switching occurs when there is an interaction between the region of open magnetic field lines and the region of closed magnetic field lines.
During this period, energy is released and forms an S-shaped perturbation that propagates into space.”
“I would say that this is the first image of a magnetic recoil in the solar corona that solved the mystery of their origin,” says Telloni.
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