In a total solar eclipse, the Moon almost entirely blocks out our view of the Sun — except for its corona.
Bursts of electromagnetic energy shoot outward, but some are still tethered by the Sun’s gravity.
NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Ben Smith
It wasn’t until 2021 that NASA’s Parker Solar Probe crossed into the atmosphere and was able to see its forces up close for the first time ever.
NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben
It captured the first-ever detailed view of solar streamers — rays of energy that we’ve only gotten a glimpse of during eclipses.
Here’s what a trip through the Sun’s corona looks like:
This view was captured 6.47 million miles from the Sun’s surface.
Alex Treadway/Photodisc/Getty Images
Compared to our view of an eclipse at 93 million miles away — that’s pretty close.
For example, the corona is somehow hotter than the Sun’s surface, and scientists don’t know why.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Conceptual Image Lab/Adriana Manrique Gutierrez
Thanks to the Parker Solar Probe’s observations, researchers confirmed that the Sun’s surface can generate these types of winds.
But the probe isn’t done collecting new data on the Sun yet.
It’s due to make another flyby through the surface in 2023 at the closest it's ever been — 3.83 million miles from the surface.