Solar Telescope Mounted on a Rocket Detects Super-Fine Strands on the Sun

Sun Active Region 12712

The Hi-C telescope zoomed in on Active Region 12712, capturing fine threads of solar material. Credit: NASA/University of Central Lancashire

New images from a NASA sounding rocket provide the highest-resolution views ever captured of the Sun’s outer atmosphere, or corona, revealing fine strands of million-degree solar material.

HI-C Sounding Rocket

Waiting for launch: NASA’s HI-C mission, sitting in the front of this image. Credit: NASA

The images show loops as thin as 125 miles (201 kilometers) across in areas that appear dim and fuzzy in other Sun-watching telescopes. It’s the first direct observation of the strands thought to combine and make up larger loops on the Sun. They also provide visual evidence that the staggeringly hot material that fills the Sun’s corona — which is some 300 times hotter than its surface — has definite structure on fine scales, rather than being a homogenous soup of particles.

The images were captured by NASA’s High-Resolution Coronal Imager, or Hi-C mission. Hi-C is a solar telescope mounted on a sounding rocket, a sub-orbital rocket that makes brief flights into space before falling back to Earth. Hi-C captured these images on its third flight from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico on May 29, 2018. The Hi-C mission is led by principal investigator Amy Winebarger of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The images were published in the Astrophysical Journal on April 7, 2020.

Reference: “Is the High-Resolution Coronal Imager Resolving Coronal Strands? Results from AR 12712” by Thomas Williams, Robert W. Walsh, Amy R. Winebarger, David H. Brooks, Jonathan W. Cirtain, Bart De Pontieu, Leon Golub, Ken Kobayashi, David E. McKenzie, Richard J. Morton, Hardi Peter, Laurel A. Rachmeler, Sabrina L. Savage, Paola Testa, Sanjiv K. Tiwari, Harry P. Warren and Benjamin J. Watkinson, 7 April 2020, Astrophysical Journal.
DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/ab6dcf

1 Comment on "Solar Telescope Mounted on a Rocket Detects Super-Fine Strands on the Sun"

  1. Sooner or later these guys are going to have to own up to what is just so painfully painfully obvious, even though it will turn current mainstream beliefs about the sun and by extension the universe on it’s head:

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