Combining imagery from three of Solar Orbiter’s remote sensing instruments – the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI), the Metis coronagraph, and Solar Orbiter’s Heliospheric Imager (SoloHI) – provides both close-up and wide views of the evolution of a coronal mass ejection (CME) on 12-13 February 2021. CMEs are eruptions of particles from the solar atmosphere that blast out into the Solar System.
This compilation starts with a view of the full Sun from EUI, with the CME circled at lower left. These images show the lower part of the Sun’s corona (atmosphere) as the CME first leaps out into space.
Metis, a coronagraph, blocks the light from the solar surface (represented as the black region with no data), allowing the Sun’s fainter, outer corona to be seen. The Metis field of view captures the CME as it extends from about 2.9-5.6 solar radii, followed by a smaller scale eruption possibly related with the post-CME reconfiguration of the solar corona.
Finally, the movie zooms out to show SoloHI’s observations, which span from 8.5 solar radii to 45 solar radii, or 0.2 AU (where 1 AU, or astronomical unit, is the Earth–Sun distance). SoloHI images the solar wind – the stream of charged particles constantly released by the Sun into outer space – by capturing the light scattered by electrons in the wind.
The ‘missing’ spot in the far right of the SoloHi imagery is an overexposed area where light from another instrument is reflecting into SoloHI’s view. The little black and white boxes that blip into view are telemetry blocks – an artefact from compressing the image and sending it back down to Earth.
Solar Orbiter is a space mission of international collaboration between ESA and NASA.