Monday, February 10, 2020

Studying Our Sun

From Ars Technica:
The Sun is our closest star, and without it life on our world could not survive. So it is essential to understand its nature. And yet, even though the Sun shines brightly on every clear day on Earth, it is difficult for astronomers to observe the star closely for a number of reasons. Most obviously, it is hot—so hot, it is difficult to get too close without getting burnt to a crisp. Additionally, due to high solar gravity, it requires a lot of energy to insert a spacecraft into an orbit near the Sun. The harsh radiation near the Sun also plays havoc with the scientific instruments on spacecraft. For all of these reasons, while astronomers have made steady progress in understanding the Sun and its effects on Earth, our atmosphere, and other bodies in the Solar System, we still have big questions. The good news is that we are now entering the golden age of Solar research with a major new ground-based telescope and two space-based observatories that will come close to the Sun. (Read more.)

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