The news: The European Space Agency-led Solar Orbiter mission has just released the closest images of the sun ever taken, from just over 47 million miles away (about half the distance from Earth to the sun).
What we’ve learned: The new images show a landscape of constant stormy activity emanating from the sun’s corona (atmosphere), revealing features that are just 250 to 310 miles across. In particular, the images reveal the existence of miniature, “campfire”-like solar flares near the surface. These could help to explain why the sun’s atmosphere is so much hotter than its surface, a question that has always confounded scientists. Read the full story.