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NASA’s solar mission detects wild threads woven into the sun’s atmosphere

A NASA mission revealed a fantastic view of super hot magnetic wires in the sun’s atmosphere.

University of Central Lancashire

Here’s an eye opener. New high-resolution images of the sun show a trait of our nearest star that we have never seen before: “incredibly fine magnetic wires filled with extremely hot millions of degrees of plasma.”


Researchers from the University of Central Lancashire in the United Kingdom and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center analyzed data from NASA’s high-resolution Coronal Imager, aka Hi-C, and discovered the strings. The “hot, electrified gas” wires are approximately 500 miles (500 kilometers) in width.

An image with the earth superimposed gives a perspective on the size of the threads.

The earth shows how big these magnetic wires really are.

University of Central Lancashire

Earlier pictures of the sun had shown dark spots where the threads are located. However, Hi-C was able to deliver what UCLan said are the highest resolution images of the sun’s atmosphere ever taken. The research team published their results this week in the Astrophysical Journal.

Hi-C is a little different from most telescopes because it launches on a rocket below the ground. On its last flight in 2018, Hi-C spent about five minutes snapping pictures of the sun from space. It returned to Earth with a parachute-assisted landing.

The strings are a bit of a mystery right now. “The exact physical mechanism that creates these pervasive hot wires remains unclear, so the scientific debate will now focus on why they are formed, and how their presence helps us understand the outbreak of tan and solar storms that can affect life on Earth,” UCLan said in a drop Thursday.

Hi-C is not done with discoveries yet. The research team now plans to launch the telescope once again to collect even more data. Between Hi-C, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe and the European Space Agency Solar Orbiter, scientists are slowly teasing out the secrets of the sun.

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