In short, the European Space Agency has shared what it believes to be the highest-resolution image ever taken of the sun’s entire disk and outer atmosphere, the corona. The Solar Orbiter had to take 25 separate images to fit the entire star into one frame. The process took over four hours, as each image required approximately 10 minutes of exposure, plus additional time for the craft to adjust between shots.
On March 7, a series of shots was taken. The crown jewel of the set was photographed using the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) at a distance of about 46.6 million miles from the sun, or about halfway between the Earth and the sun.
The corona has a temperature of about one million degrees Celsius.
The full size image can be downloaded from the ESA website. It weighs more than 56 MB and contains more than 83 million pixels with a resolution of 9,148 x 9,112. The ESA has even included a scale image of the Earth in the top right corner for comparison.
The Solar Orbiter was launched on February 10, 2020 as a joint operation between ESA and NASA. The US space agency also operates its own probe known as the Parker Solar Probe. Late last year, it became the first spacecraft to fly through the sun’s atmosphere. Future missions will see the Parker Solar Probe fly even closer to the sun — within 3.83 million miles of the surface.