BEIJING, Dec. 10 (Xinhua) — In August 2018, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe made its closest flyby to the sun, just 15 million miles (24 million kilometers) from the sun, and used cutting-edge scientific instruments to collect a large amount of data, according tomedia reports. Unwittingly, it set the record for the longest flight ever by an artificial object.
The results of the study on the data have only recently begun to be published. On Wednesday, scientists published four papers in the journal Nature. These findings will rewrite our understanding of the processes of star birth, evolution and death, and will help us find new ways to protect astronauts from the harsh environment of the universe during long space travel.
“When we first started analyzing the data, they were more complex than we could have imagined. “Now I’m used to it, ” says Stuart Bale, chief researcher of the Parker Solar Detector Science Instrument. But when I first showed my colleagues the results, they couldn’t help but be surprised. “
Most surprising to the team, the sun’s released magnetic field appeared to flip back and forth, causing local disturbances. Sometimes its magnetic field even appears to be a “180-degree turn”, which in turn is aimed at the sun itself. Scientists still don’t know why this magnetic field flip occurs, but it may help us better understand how energy flows away from the sun and later in the solar system.
“Early in the space age, scientists observed the presence of waves in the solar wind. We guess that the closer you are to the sun, the stronger these waves will be. But we didn’t expect such a coherent spike structure in the solar wind’s velocity curve. “
The scientists also found that solar radiation causes the surrounding cosmic dust particles to evaporate, creating a dust-free belt about 3.5 million miles wide.
In addition, the solar wind moves around the sun “almost 10 times faster than the standard model predicts”.
The mission also allowed us to observe for the first time the solar wind that is orbiting the sun, rather than the solar wind moving perpendicular to the sun’s face after leaving the sun.
“The sun is the only star we can detect at close range,” said Nicola Fox, director of solar physics at NASA headquarters. The data collected this time has dramatically changed our understanding of the sun and other stars in the universe. The Parker solar probe is still traveling through the harsh space environment, sending back amazing and exciting new data. “
The Parker solar probe will approach the sun again on January 29, 2020, hoping to break the previous distance record.