Space-based observatory detects over 200 solar flares

A Long March-2D carrier rocket carrying the Advanced Space-based Solar Observatory (ASO-S) blasts off from the Jiuquan Satellite

Launch Center in northwest China, Oct. 9, 2022. [Photo/Xinhua]

The Advanced Space-based Solar Observatory, called Kuafu-1 in Chinese, has detected more than 200 solar flares since it was launched into space last October, according to the project's chief scientist Gan Weiqun.

Observation data from three payloads onboard Kuafu-1 has been made available for trial use at home and abroad, Gan said at the Zhongguancun Forum on Tuesday.

Kuafu-1 is an all-rounder satellite specially designed for solar detection. Kuafu is a giant in Chinese mythology who indefatigably chased the sun.

It has three payloads onboard -- the Lyman-alpha Solar Telescope (LST), the Hard X-ray Imager (HXI), and the Full-disk Vector MagnetoGraph (FMG).

According to Gan, the HXI has the best in-orbit performance with more than 200 solar flares detected. The HXI achieved China's first hard X-ray solar imaging with world-class imaging quality.

He noted that the HXI has the only hard X-ray imaging of the sun from a near-Earth perspective in the world, which provides irreplaceable observation data on solar flares.

The details of solar flares' non-thermal radiation distribution captured by the HXI are pretty rare, exceeding previous expectations, Gan added.

Meanwhile, the FMG realized China's first observation of a solar magnetic field from space. The LST had a full-disk solar observation, detecting some rare white-light flares and several Lyman-alpha lines in solar prominences.

The wave band of Lyman-alpha, representing the neutral hydrogen spectra released by more than 70 percent of the solar mass, is known to be the strongest ultraviolet emission line that affects the Earth's ionosphere.

Gan noted that the sun has an extremely close relationship with human beings, and Kuafu-1 is of great significance as it has undertaken the sacred mission to usher in a new era of comprehensive solar space exploration in China.

He said the frontier research of solar physics of Kuafu-1 is progressing in full swing, expressing hopes to bring together solar physicists from home and abroad to use satellite data for in-depth research in the future.

Kuafu-1 was launched in October last year from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China.

After six months of in-orbit commissioning, the satellite has obtained a large amount of raw solar observation data.

Last month, a data release and training conference on how to use the observation data was held online, which was attended by nearly 400 solar physics experts from 25 countries.