UCLan Solar Physicists examine fine-scale detai...
The ultra-high resolution images captured by NASA's Hi-C instrument (High-resolution Coronal Imager) uncovered an amazing amount of detail within the hot outer atmosphere of the Sun (the Corona). The camera imaged electrified plasma at about 1 million degrees C and exposed phenomena scientists had never seen before. Hi-C was launched on a sounding rocket on 11 July 2012 and was a collaboration between NASA, UCLan and many international partners*.
Solar physicists at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) have been analysing the data and have focused on two interesting phenomena. The box on the bottom-left of the movie shows a blown up area of dynamic 'sparkles' which give out an enormous amount of energy. The box on the top-right shows a more detailed view of fast plasma flows observed along magnetic field lines. Both observations are unique and have not been seen with previous instrumentation. Understanding the corona on the smallest scales is vital for uncovering how the Sun's atmosphere is heated to such high temperatures. This work has recently been submitted to the Astrophysical Journal for publication.
*MSFC/NASA led the mission and partners include the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Mass.; Lockheed Martin's Solar Astrophysical Laboratory in Palo Alto, Calif.; the University of Central Lancashire in Lancashire, England; and the Lebedev Physical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow.