The Sun has always been at the center of our lives. From bringing us exceptional warmth to growing thousands of varieties of food to sustain us, the Sun allows life to persevere above all else. It is for this reason that without the Sun lighting our way, we would have long since fallen into disarray. Shining bright every day, the Sun is the first object in space to be studied by ancient astronomers, and with the more information we learn about it, the more we come to realize just how dependent we are of it. One of these discoveries has just recently come to light on June 15, 2020, when NASA’s Solar Orbiter captured the closest pictures of the Sun to date. The Solar Orbiter carries 10 different instruments, all of which are used to gather data about the Sun’s various anomalies such as solar wind and solar flares. Through the use of these various instruments, a new anomaly was found on the surface of the Sun. (picture) The tiny, bright spots on the surface of the sun are currently called ‘campfires’ though the name may be changed in the future to be more scientifically accurate. David Berghmans, an astrophysicist at the Royal Observatory of Belgium remarked, “The campfires we are talking about here are the little nephews of solar flares, at least a million, perhaps a billion times smaller. When looking at the new high-resolution EUI images, they are literally everywhere we look.” The scientists and astrophysicists working on the project have yet to understand what these miniature solar flares are, nor for what use they are in conjunction with the Sun’s inner workings. One of the theories that have gained momentum is that the campfires, as they call them, are nanoflares that cause mini-explosions, heating up the Sun’s outer atmosphere by a 30,000% increase. As ESA/NASA’s team cannot yet prove whether or not this is correct, they can only patiently wait for their next opportunity to acquire the next data set from the Solar Orbiter. Until this information is released to the rest of the world, we also can only patiently wait for new information, but until then, we can be happy to know that we are slowly learning more about the fiery body in which our planet, and we, orbit.
If you want more information on these ‘campfires’ or nanoflares visit this article written by NASA. I found it incredibly helpful when writing my own article.