Scientists Release Stunning Picture Taken Really Close to the Sun

The European Space Agency has released an extraordinary image obtained by its Solar Orbiter, a sophisticated spacecraft designed to observe the Sun from much closer than Earth — and spoiler alert, it’s pretty incredible.

You can see a zoomed out version below, but to really appreciate the sheer majesty of the image, it’s worth clicking here for the full-resolution version. That tiny speck in the upper right corner? Yep, that’s the entirety of the Earth to scale.

Enhance! Enhance!

The end result was stitched together from 25 separate shots, the ESA explained, taken by the Solar Orbiter’s Extreme Ultraviolet Imager instrument as the spacecraft passed directly between the Earth and the Sun. The probe was about halfway between the Earth and our star at the time.

The resulting data, according to the agency, could lead to unprecedented scientific understanding of eruptions on the surface of our star and how they relate to things happening deeper down into the solar atmosphere.

But to the layperson, the image is also just a stunning reminder of the beauty, complexity and raw power of the star around which we all orbit.

Reference(s): ESA

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