Lowest layers of Sun`s atmosphere observed for first time

NASA`s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) spacecraft has captured its first observations of the lowest layers of the Sun`s atmosphere, which can now be observed in detail.

Updated: Jul 26, 2013, 22:27 PM IST

Washington: NASA`s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) spacecraft has captured its first observations of the lowest layers of the Sun`s atmosphere, which can now be observed in detail.

The first images from IRIS show the solar interface region in unprecedented detail.

They reveal dynamic magnetic structures and flows of material in the sun`s atmosphere and hint at tremendous amounts of energy transfer through this little-understood region.

These features may help power the sun`s dynamic million-degree atmosphere and drive the solar wind that streams out to fill the entire solar system.

"With this grand opening of the telescope door and first observations from IRIS we`ve opened a new window into the energetics of the sun`s atmosphere," John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said.

"The mission is a great example of a successful partnership for science between government, industry, academia, and international institutions. We look forward to the new insights IRIS will provide," he said.

IRIS capabilities are tailored to let scientists observe the interface region in exquisite detail.

The energy flowing through it powers the upper layer of the sun`s atmosphere, the corona, to temperatures greater than 1.8 million degrees Fahrenheit (1 million kelvins). That is almost a thousand times hotter than the sun`s surface.

Understanding the interface region is important because it drives the solar wind and forms the ultraviolet emission that impacts near-Earth space and Earth`s climate.

ANI