ISRO’s maiden solar mission, Aditya L1, has marked a significant achievement by capturing its first high-energy X-ray glimpse of solar flares. During its initial observation period starting from around October 29, the High Energy L1 Orbiting X-ray Spectrometer (HEL1OS) on board the Aditya-L1 spacecraft recorded the impulsive phase of solar flares, as announced by the space agency in a statement on Tuesday.
Solar Flares: A Sudden Brightening
- A solar flare is a sudden brightening of the solar atmosphere, and the recorded data from Aditya L1 is consistent with the X-ray light curves provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES).
HEL1OS Fine-Tuning and Calibration Operations
- Commissioned on October 27, 2023, HEL1OS is currently undergoing fine-tuning of thresholds and calibration operations. The instrument is set to monitor the Sun’s high-energy X-ray activity with fast timing and high-resolution spectra, according to the ISRO statement.
Studying Solar Explosive Energy Release
- HEL1OS data enables researchers to study explosive energy release and electron acceleration during the impulsive phases of solar flares.
- Developed by the Space Astronomy Group of the U R Rao Satellite Centre, ISRO, Bengaluru, HEL1OS is a hard X-ray spectrometer and a crucial component of Aditya-L1 Solar Mission.
Aditya-L1: Exploring the Sun’s Flaring Activities
- HEL1OS, the hard X-ray spectrometer on Aditya-L1 Solar Mission, serves as the harbinger of flaring activities on the Sun, with the ability to capture the early impulsive phase of solar activity.
- Flares produce enhanced emissions in various wavelengths across the electromagnetic spectrum, including radio, optical, UV, soft X-rays, hard X-rays, and gamma-rays.
- The flare emission comprises emissions from accelerated particles and hot plasma.
Aditya-L1 Mission Overview
- The Aditya-L1 spacecraft is designed to provide remote observations of the solar corona and in-situ observations of the solar wind at L1 (Sun-Earth Lagrangian point), located about 1.5 million kilometers from Earth.
- It represents the first dedicated Indian space mission for solar observations, aiming to study the Sun from an orbit around the L1.
- The mission carries seven payloads to observe the photosphere, chromosphere, and the outermost layers of the Sun, the corona, in different wavebands.
Fully Indigenous Effort
- Aditya-L1 is a fully indigenous effort with the participation of national institutions, showcasing India’s prowess in space exploration.
- An ISRO scientist mentioned to PTI that capturing the first high-energy X-ray glimpse of solar flares is an indication that the mission is progressing well as expected, marking a positive step in the exploration of our Sun.