NASA’s Parker Solar Probe has made a groundbreaking discovery, flying through a massive coronal mass ejection (CME) in September 2022. The probe, which is on a mission to gather insights about the Sun, captured valuable data on the interaction between the Sun’s scorching plasma and interplanetary dust. This is the first time that Parker has observed how CMEs interact with interplanetary dust, providing researchers with a wealth of new information.
The CME that the probe flew through is one of the most powerful ever recorded. Analysis of the data collected by Parker has been published in The Astrophysical Journal. Scientists studying the CME have concluded that it cleared interplanetary dust out to approximately 6 million miles from the Sun. However, the space cleared by the CME was soon filled with more interplanetary dust, indicating a rapid replenishment process.
The interactions between CMEs and interplanetary dust have been theorized for the past two decades but had never been observed until now. This groundbreaking discovery opens up new avenues for research and provides a deeper understanding of the dynamics between the Sun’s superheated plasma and interplanetary dust.
The Parker Solar Probe’s Wide Field Imagery for Solar Probe (WISPR) camera captured the spacecraft’s view of the CME as it made its historic flyby. The probe has previously made successful flybys of Mercury and Venus and made its first direct contact with the Sun’s corona in 2021.
Named after Eugene Parker, the physicist who theorized the existence of solar wind, the Parker Solar Probe will continue its voyage around the Sun, gathering valuable insights until its next flyby in November 2024. This mission promises to revolutionize our understanding of the Sun and shed light on the mysteries of our solar system’s star.
Stay tuned for further updates from the Parker Solar Probe as it collects more data and expands our knowledge of the Sun and its surroundings.
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