This image was captured on 21 April 2020 by the Spectral Investigation of the Coronal Environment (SPICE) instrument on ESA’s Solar Orbiter. Taken at extreme-ultraviolet wavelengths, this is the first glimpse from SPICE of data that will give us measurements of the flows of plasma, its composition and temperature in the Sun’s atmosphere, the corona, which will help us unravel the origin of the solar wind.
This image shows the distribution of emission from electrically charged carbon atoms, known as ions, for this region of the Sun’s atmosphere, where the temperatures is 50 000 K. The image was taken in the ultraviolet wavelength of 97.7 nm. The pattern is created by the underlying network of invisible magnetic fields; the bright emission is concentrated above stronger magnetic fields which heat the ions.
The first SPICE spectra are available here.
Solar Orbiter is a space mission of international collaboration between ESA and NASA.