Aditya-L1 satellite data shows Sun heating up, 'moving towards solar maximum'

The mission was aimed at studying the Sun comprehensively and in turn protecting Indian satellites from being burnt out by solar flares.
This geomagnetic storm was of the highest intensity in the last two decades.
This geomagnetic storm was of the highest intensity in the last two decades.

BENGALURU: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has revealed the data captured by the Aditya-L1 satellite -- India’s maiden mission to the Sun -- and warned that the brightest star in the ecosystem is moving towards the solar maximum, giving rise to enhanced activity.

“There are several active regions visible around the equatorial region. The Active region AR13664 on the Sun, during its passage between May 8 – 15, 2024, erupted several X-class and M-class flares, which were associated with Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs). These produced a major geomagnetic storm on May 11, 2024.” the space agency said on Monday.

This geomagnetic storm was of the highest intensity in the last two decades. ISRO released photos of the Sun captured through the Solar Ultra-Violet Imaging Telescope (SUIT) and the Visible Emission Line Coronagraph (VELC) payload onboard the solar observatory satellite that showed the full disk images of how the solar flares occurred.

The mission was aimed at studying the Sun comprehensively and in turn protecting Indian satellites from being burnt out by solar flares. The seven payloads are meant to observe the solar atmosphere mainly “chromosphere and corona.” ISRO scientists said that with the help of the data recorded during May, they were able to protect more than 50 satellites, which cost Rs 50,000 crore.

The scientists said that the recorded regions signify magnetically active regions on the Sun’s surface and the large solar flares may originate in these active regions due to changes in magnetic field. The payloads are also studying how the solar flares heat the chromosphere and how the energy is deposited which will aid in tracking the long-term solar behaviour.

However, ISRO admitted that during the solar storm, two of its remote-sensing instruments, the SUIT and VELC, were in their baking and calibration modes and couldn’t observe the solar activity on May 10-11. “Both SUIT and VELC doors were opened on May 14 after the completion of the indented operations.”

VELC's observation

The space agency reported that the VELC instrument too carried out observations in one of the spectroscopic channels for the emission line 5303 Angstrom. “Raster scans of the solar corona were carried out on May 14, 2024, to capture the coronal activities in this particular spectral line,” it said. It captured the extent of the occulting disk and blocked the bright light of the solar photosphere so that the relatively million times faint structures in the solar corona could be observed, providing intricate details.

The Aditya-L1 mission was launched on September 2 last year from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota.

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