The Solar Orbiter has recently captured extreme ultraviolet images of the Sun, revealing a multitude of small-scale jets known as “picoflare” jets within a coronal hole, raising questions about their role in powering the solar wind and impacting space weather.
- The Solar Orbiter is a collaborative mission between the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA that aims to investigate the Sun’s magnetic fields, energetic particles, and plasma in their pristine state before they are altered during their journey.
- The mission was launched in February 2020.
- Picoflare jets are small-scale phenomena on the sun that release a significant amount of energy in a short period, typically lasting only a few dozen seconds.
- These jets, named as pico, as they carried approximately one-trillionth as much energy as the largest flares that the sun is believed to be able to produce.
- ‘Pico’ is an order of magnitude that denotes 1012, or one trillionth of a unit.
- The phenomenon responsible for creating these jets in the sun’s coronal holes is likely magnetic reconnection.
- Magnetic reconnection involves the breaking and reconnecting of magnetic field lines, which releases a substantial amount of stored energy.