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Parker Solar Probe captures a phenomenon observed during eclipses — watch

NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben

In a total solar eclipse, the Moon almost entirely blocks out our view of the Sun — except for its corona.

That ghostly, uneven ring around the Sun is its outer atmosphere.

Bursts of electromagnetic energy shoot outward, but some are still tethered by the Sun’s gravity.


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.

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.

Understanding streamers — and other solar phenomena — could help us crack several mysteries about our home star.



For example, the corona is somehow hotter than the Sun’s surface, and scientists don’t know why.

Researchers also want to better understand solar wind, which are charged particles from the Sun that dissipate throughout the Solar System.

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Lisa Poje

One phenomenon of solar wind is switchbacks.

These bursts of energy zig-zag as they travel outward.

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.

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