You have probably heard that NASA’s Parker Solar Probe made history this year when it became the first spacecraft to “touch the Sun.” Now there is a video of the probe zipping through the Sun’s corona, and to say it’s magnificent is an understatement. Yes, that is the Milky Way as viewed through the Sun’s “atmosphere,” with a special appearance by the Milky Way. Parker has a history of making historic firsts and shattering records.
At only 8.5 million kilometers (5.3 million miles) from the Sun’s surface, it smashed the distance record to become the closest human-made object to the Sun this year. It also shattered its own record, becoming the fastest human-made object of all time for the second time.
Its most recent historic milestone, on the other hand, is accompanied by video evidence. Take a trip around the Sun’s corona, complete with the Milky Way. Because the Sun is not solid, there is no clear line between where it ends and where space begins. The Sun’s atmosphere is known as the corona and it is the zone where solar material is restricted by gravity and magnetic fields.
The Alfvén critical surface, which marks the end of the solar atmosphere and the start of the solar wind, is located at this location. Until today, scientists had no idea where the Alfvén critical surface was located.
The distance from the Sun’s surface is predicted to be 6.9 to 13.8 million kilometers (4.3 to 8.6 million miles). Parker experienced magnetic and particle circumstances that notified NASA scientists it had passed the Alfvén critical surface for the first time and eventually entered the solar atmosphere on April 28, 2021, at a height of 13 million kilometers (8.1 million miles) above the Sun’s surface.
It recorded particles and magnetic fields as it sped through the Sun’s upper atmosphere at roughly 142 kilometers per second (88 miles per second), plunging as low as 10.4 million kilometers (6.5 million miles) from the Sun’s surface. It also captured many photographs, which were put together by scientists on the ground to create this spectacular film.
The Milky Way may see peeping out from beneath streamers, which are highly charged particles and structures flying through the corona. However, it is not only a fantastic video. What the Parker Solar Probe discovers there, and what it learns, as it gets closer in the coming years, will permanently alter our understanding of our star.