Solar Orbiter, a new ESA and NASA mission to observe the Sun, has revealed small solar flares, dubbed "campfires," on its surface.
Daniel Müller, ESA's Solar Orbiter Project Scientist, says the initial photographs show exciting new phenomena.
Solar Orbiter launched on February 10, 2020, with six remote-sensing telescopes to study the Sun and its environment and four in situ experiments to monitor the spacecraft's environment.
From Solar Orbiter's first perihelion, the point in its elliptical orbit closest to the Sun, the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) took the pictures of the campfires in the first image set.
However, there are also theories that suggest that the coronal heating, one of the Sun's most mystifying phenomena, may be a result of these little flares.
Its temperature exceeds a million degrees Celsius, making it thousands of times hotter than the Sun's surface, which is just about 5500 degrees Celsius.
The physical processes that heat the corona have been studied for many decades, yet their identity is still regarded as the "holy grail" of solar physics.
The Sun periodically releases solar wind into the surrounding space, but solar flares enable bursts of energetic particles to be released from the star.
The readings from the in situ equipment may then be compared with the magnetograms, which illustrate how the intensity of the solar magnetic field varies over the Sun's surface.