The Metis instrument on ESA’s Solar Orbiter blocks out the dazzling light from the solar surface, allowing the fainter outer atmosphere of the Sun, the corona, to be seen.
“The Metis coronagraph measures simultaneously for the first time visible and ultraviolet emissions of the solar corona with unprecedented temporal coverage and spatial resolution,” says Marco Romoli, Metis Principal Investigator. “This enables us to diagnose the structures and dynamics of the two major components of the solar corona: protons and electrons.”
The images shown here come from the instrument’s first light, which was obtained on 15 May 2020, and from soon after Solar Orbiter’s first perihelion, on 21 June 2020. Visible light images (580-640 nm) are shown in green and ultraviolet images (121.6 nm) are shown in red. All images show the two bright equatorial streamers and fainter polar regions that are characteristic of the solar corona during times of minimal magnetic activity.
Solar Orbiter is a space mission of international collaboration between ESA and NASA.