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Sun exposed in Nature

First results published in Nature for the Parker Solar Probe which involve the Laboratory of Plasma Physics. By exploring the solar corona, his instruments reveal the tumults that wave the solar wind and thus help to understand it better.

Parker Solar Probe ©NASA/JHUAPL

The Parker Solar Probe mission was launched in August 2018 to study the Sun at a distance that no instrument could have approached before. Embarking on board a circuit for the detection of electrons carried out at the Laboratory of Plasma Physics (LPP*), this mission aims to study the solar corona whose temperature is a mystery: of the order of 2 million degrees, 300 times warmer than the 6000 degrees measured on the Sun's surface.

The first results published in Nature on December 4, 2019 reveal several surprising phenomena. Measurements of the solar wind - the ionized gas whose the magnetic field of the Earth protects us - have revealed that it is regularly disturbed by supersonic plasma jets. These burst in the solar wind could contribute to explain the heating of the corona.

Small solar storms have also been discovered. They emit and accelerate energetic particles that could play a role in the emission of high energy particles that reach us. These first discoveries excite the scientific community by bringing unprecedented measures of the environment close to the Sun. By confronting these data with theories, they will allow to better understand the Sun, but also the stars that surround us.

* UMR CNRS/École polytechnique/Observatoire de Paris/Université Paris-Sud/Sorbonne Université

> Learn more : First discoveries of the Parker Solar Probe mission

> Publications : Alfvénic velocity spikes and rotational flows in the near-Sun solar wind. J. C. Kasper et al., Nature ; Highly structured slow solar wind emerging from an equatorial coronal hole. S. D. Bale et al., Nature ; Near-Sun Observations of an F-corona Decrease 1 and K-Corona Fine Structures. R. A. Howard et al., Nature ; Energetic Particle Environment near the Sun from Parker Solar Probe. D.J. McComas et al., Nature.